Archive of July 9, 2007

Pope Benedict goes on vacation: time dedicated to prayer and reflection

Rome, Italy, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - Just before departing for his own vacation in the Alps of northern Italy, Pope Benedict said that he hopes that everyone can have some vacation, to recharge their spiritual and physical energies and to come into a healthy contact with nature.

At 10.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Ciampino airport on an hour-long flight to the airport of Treviso-Istrana. From there he traveled by helicopter to Lorenzago, the mountain getaway where he will devote himself to “more time for prayer and reflection.”

The Pope will be staying in the same villa that John Paul II used several times for his vacations. 

Benedict XVI will spend 18 days in the northern Italian alpine resort. After his vacation, he will go to his summer residence of Castelgandolfo where he will remain until the end of September.

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Pope writes letter for 800th birthday of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - This year the Hungarian church marks the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. In recognition of the celebration, Pope Benedict has sent a letter to the primate of Hungary, Cardinal Peter Erdo, saying that he hopes that St. Elizabeth will serve as a model for the rediscovery of the Christian roots of Europe.

Benedict XVI expressed the hope that "profound knowledge of the personality and work of Elizabeth of Thuringia may be a help in rediscovering, with ever greater awareness, the Christian roots of Hungary and of Europe itself, encouraging leaders to develop harmonious and respectful dialogue between the Church and civil society in order to build a truly free and united world."

St. Elizabeth has been a source of witness to Christ’s charity for centuries of believers. She also serves as an example of virtue “radically applied in marriage, the family and even in widowhood. She has also inspired political figures, who have drawn from her the motivation to work towards reconciliation between peoples."

Benedict XVI closed his letter with the final exhortation that this year should be “an occasion for Hungarians, Germans, and all Europeans ... to emphasize the Christian heritage they received from their forefathers, so as to continue to draw from those roots the energy necessary to achieve an abundant harvest in the new millennium that has just begun."

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Episcopal priest suspended after embracing Islam

Seattle, Wash., Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - An Episcopal priest, who announced last month that she is also a practicing Muslim, has been suspended from the priesthood and other Episcopal leadership roles for a year.

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding should "reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam," Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island wrote in an e-mail to other church leaders.

Redding was ordained by a former bishop of Rhode Island 23 years ago and remains under the authority of that diocese.

Redding told the Seattle Times she removed her priest's collar in a meeting with Bishop Wolf last week. The two will continue to communicate and revisit the issue at the end of the year. One of Redding’s options, she said, is to voluntarily leave the priesthood.

According to The Associated Press, Redding is scheduled to start teaching part time at Jesuit-run Seattle University this fall but Bishop Wolf’s decision has barred her from teaching, preaching or working at any Episcopal church or institution.

Redding told the Seattle Times she has been a practicing Muslim for 15 months after she was profoundly moved by an introduction to Islamic prayer.

She maintains that she has not violated any of her baptismal or ordination vows. She claims she has since become a better teacher, preacher and Christian.

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Anglican Church to complete ‘covenant agreement’ to settle disputes

London, England, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) -

The Church of England's ruling body has given the green light for a covenant agreement, which would aim to commit the Anglican Communion's separate churches to specific procedures for solving disputes, reported the BBC.

The General Synod, meeting in York, said it supported drawing up the rules.

"Unless we can make a fresh statement clearly and basically of what holds us together we are destined to grow apart," said Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, who chaired the group meeting.

The synod rejected a motion to oppose the draft covenant, proposed by Tim Cox from the Diocese of Blackburn.

Cox was concerned that the draft is too weak. “It feels like a cut and paste job,” he reportedly said during the synod’s three-hour debate. "It vacillates and, unlike our articles, does not make a clear assertion that the Scriptures are the word of God.

He underlined that “the promotion of sexual immorality is not even mentioned."

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has warned that the Anglican Communion could split over issues such as the 2003 ordination of a US gay bishop. There has also been disagreement over church blessings for same-sex couples.

According to the BBC report, he has suggested dividing the Communion into "associated" and "constituent" provinces as a way around problems.

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Irish Protestant marchers seek talks with Catholics

Dublin, Ireland, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - Catholics in Portadown, Northern Ireland, are skeptical about the call for talks, issued by the major Protestant brotherhood, the Orange Order.

The Orange Order called for negotiations with Catholics after police restricted one of the group's major public marches through Portadown for the 10th straight year.

“We are committed to face-to-face talks under an independent chairman, with no preconditions. All options are open,” Portadown Orange leader Darryl Hewitt reportedly told the press.

Since Northern Ireland's foundation as a predominantly Protestant part of the United Kingdom in 1921, the Catholic minority has criticized the summertime tradition of Orange parades designed to intimidate and insult them.

They cite the parades' use of so-called “kick the Pope” bands of fife and drum, as well as songs with overtly anti-Catholic themes. The Catholics say they don't want to enter into any talks that would result in renewed Orange parading through their area, reported The Associated Press.

Since 1998, when three Catholic children died at the hands of a Protestant arsonist in another town, police have prevented Protestants from parading into Portadown through the town's major Catholic district.

On Sunday, as has been the case for the past three years, Orange leaders marched in their traditional conservative suits and orange vestments to the police barricade. However, this time they only handed over a letter of protest and walked back to their cars. In the past, the marchers would stay for days and nights in a stubborn test of wills with the police.

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O'Connor will not retire at 75

Westminster, Colo., Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster has submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

In response to his offer, the Holy Father has asked him to, “instead to continue in [his] present pastoral ministry until he chooses otherwise.”

Cardinal O’Connor said that, “I am very content to accept the Holy Father’s request.”

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Anarchists attack offices of Spanish Federation of Centers of Education

Madrid, Spain, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - A group of young people broke into the offices of the Spanish Federation of Centers of Education this weekend and sprayed graffiti on the walls in support of “public and secular schools” and against private education.

Isabel Bazo, president of the Federation, denounced the vandalism and said that approximately twenty individuals wearing masks and wigs defaced pictures of Pope Benedict XVI and several business leaders, accusing them of manipulating young people and expressing their rejection of any form of education that is not state-sponsored.

She stressed that freedom of education is a constitutional right and that private education is necessary for the development of the country, and “it is solicited by parents and valued by society in general.”

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Knights embarassed by members who voted against Mass. marriage amendment

New Haven, Conn., Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus was dissapointed to learn that 16 of its members, who hold political office in the Massachusetts Legislature, voted against the same-sex marriage amendment in June.

The June 14 vote, which decided whether same-sex marriage would be put on the 2008 ballot, got only 45 votes — five votes shy of the 50-vote requirement.

"It is certainly embarrassing to the order and to every Knight out there who is firm in his support of traditional marriage and the right to life," Pat Korten, vice-president for communications for the Knights, told

The 16 Knights who voted to defeat the marriage amendment include: Speaker of the House Sal Dimasi; House Majority Leader John Rogers; Reps. Garrett Bradley, Bob Deleo, Stephen Di Natale, Chris Donelan, Christopher Fallon, Kevin Honan, Charles Murphy, Angelo Puppolo, Bob Spellane, Bob Nyman, and Paul McMurtry; Senators Tom McGee, Michael Knapik, and Michael Morrissey.

Among these, seven are rated "pro-choice" by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts' Advocacy Fund: Dimasi, Bradley, Donelan, Honan, Murphy, Spellane, and McGee.

The Knights of Columbus had led the statewide drive to collect 170,000 petitions in support of the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Furthermore, 500 Knights delegates at the state convention had unanimously approved a resolution demanding that the Legislature allow a ballot for citizens to decide the fate of same-sex marriage.

Korten says the Knights can only employ fraternal correction and prayer in this case.

A Knights member must be 18 and a practicing Catholic “who is recognized as such by the local Church where he goes or the ordinary of the diocese," said Korten.

It is up to the diocese or the Church hierarchy to decide whether these lawmakers are no longer Catholic, Korten told "We as laymen do not presume to decide whether other laymen are Catholics or not," he said.

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Soon-to-be blessed proposed as model of Christian life for young people

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - The Salesian provincial superior for the region of Northern Patagonia, Father Vicente Tirabasso, said this week the upcoming beatification of the Mapuche Indian Ceferino Namuncura would provide young people with an excellent role model of being faithful to the gospel.

In statements to the AICA news agency, Father Tirabasso said the news of the beatification was “an immense joy” that “shows once again that the evangelization and witness to the faith by the Salesian family leads to fullness of life.”

Father Tirbasso explained that the official announcement of the beatification would be made by the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, but he revealed that it would take place on November 11 in the town of Chimpay, where Namuncura was born.  He said the Superior General of the Salesians, Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, would be present at the event.

He noted that the cause for beatification was opened because of Namuncura’s “radical and profound faith, because he loved Christ in his people,” and because of his “attitude of service, becoming a priest to be a missionary among his people and enduring the sufferings of his illness as a sacrifice for souls.”

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Master’s program launched in Rome to form opinion makers in developing countries

Rome, Italy, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - During the presentation of the second edition of the Master’s Program “Global Development and Social Justice” at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Msgr. Mauro Parmeggiani, general secretary of the Vicariate of Rome, said, “The seed of culture needs to grow in the developing countries.”

“The objective of the course,” Caritas of Rome explained, “is to form future leaders, administrators, social workers and opinion makers in the continents that are the poorest socially and economically.”  Some 20 students from Bulgaria, Colombia, India, Russia, Haiti, Indonesia and Rwanda have enrolled in the program.

The program will focus on themes inherent to social development, justice and peace.  “It’s a project of international solidarity that goes to the foundations of society in the different aspects that characterize it,” Msgr. Parmeggiani explained.

The Master’s Program is being organized by Caritas of Rome in collaboration with St. John’s University in New York, the Institutes of Santa Maria in Aquiro and the Fondazione Idente di Studi e Ricerche.

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More than 3000 object to Education for Citizenship in Toledo

Toledo, Spain, Jul 9, 2007 (CNA) - The Provincial Catholic Federal Association of Parents of Students said this week it has received more than 3095 complaints against the Education for Citizenship course just in the Spanish province of Toledo.

819 complaints came from parents with children in public schools while 2276 came from parents with children in private and parochial schools.  “These figures confirm that Toledo has the highest number of objections in all of Spain.  This extraordinarily high number is due to the intense informational campaign carried out by our two organizations with collaboration from Professionals for Ethics,” the federation reported.

The parental organization has made over 40 presentations throughout the province of Toledo warning parents about the risks of the Education for Citizenship class, which it says the government is using to indoctrinate young people.

“We have explained to people that this is material that is clearly sectarian and secular, and we have informed them about the importance the course gives to relativism and the extraordinary influence of gender ideology and radical and exclusive feminism.  And lastly, we have told them about the inadmissible identification made in the course between positive law and the moral good,” the group said.

The parental organization said the number of objections continues to rise, with more than thirty different organizations working together to defend the rights of parents and to protect children from state indoctrination.

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