Vatican City, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Vatican, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, announced yesterday that Pope Benedict XVI will make his first trip to the United States. Speaking on Italian state television, Fr. Lombardi said that the Pope plans to accept the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to attend the General Assembly session in New York in September of 2008.
Other upcoming papal trips were also announced by the Vatican’s spokesman.
This September 7th-9th the Holy Father will travel to Vienna, Austria to deliver an “internationally important” speech to the diplomats accredited to the various international organizations headquartered in the Austrian capital.
The final voyage announced will be to the Marian shrine in Lourdes, France. Pope Benedict will travel to the shrine to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the appearance of the Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette Soubirous. The Lourdes pilgrimage will be of particular significance since it was the last place that the late Pope John Paul II visited before his death.
Pope Benedict also continues to focus on the upcoming World Youth Day which will be held in Sydney Australia. On Sunday, he told the youth of the world to begin their spiritual preparation now, so that they will be able to fully participate in the event when it arrives.
Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles apologized Sunday to the hundreds of the plaintiffs involved in the recent settlement over allegations of sex abuse.
"There really is no way to go back and give them that innocence that was taken from them. The one thing I wish I could give the victims ... I cannot," he said.
"Once again, I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who has been abused. It should not have happened, and it will not happen again."
More than 500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse will get a share of a $660-million settlement reached late Saturday, reported The Associated Press. This is by far the largest payout since the nationwide clergy abuse scandal emerged in 2002 in Boston.
The amount would average a little more than $1.3 million per plaintiff, although individual payouts will vary according to the severity and duration of the abuse.
The deal settles all 508 cases that remained against the archdiocese, which also paid $60 million in December to settle 45 cases that weren't covered by the insurance companies.
Under the latest deal, the archdiocese will pay $250 million, insurance carriers will pay a combined $227 million and several religious orders will pay $60 million. The remaining $123 million will come from litigation with religious orders that chose not to participate in the deal, reported the AP.
The settlement will not affect the archdiocese's core ministry, Cardinal Mahony said, but the church will have to sell buildings, use some of its invested funds and borrow money. The archdiocese will not sell any parish property, he said.
Cardinal Mahony met with dozens of people alleging sex abuse in the past 14 months, which he said helped him understand the importance of a quick settlement.
The settlement also calls for the release of priests' confidential personnel files after review by a judge.
Cardinal Mahony and all parties are expected before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge today to enter the settlement into the court record. A judge must sign off on the agreement.
"I think for those of us who have been involved in this for more than five years, it's a huge relief," said Michael Hennigan, archdiocese attorney, told the AP. "But it's a disappointment too that we didn't get it done much earlier than this."
According to the AP, these settlements push the total amount paid out by the U.S. church since 1950 to more than $2 billion, with about a quarter of that from Los Angeles.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - Organizers of World Youth Day (WYD) 2008, to be held in Sydney, Australia, have launched a program called HomeStay to provide housing for the thousands of young people set to attend the event.
The hosting program asks Sydney homeowners to host two or more visiting pilgrims from overseas or outside Sydney.
The approaching World Youth Day, scheduled for July 15th-20th 2008, is expected to involve 500,000 people including 125,000 overseas visitors and up to 175,000 from other parts of Australia.
“World Youth Day will bring the biggest ever contingent of young people to Sydney,” WYD08 Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher OP said.
“Most will be accommodated in schools and parish halls, but we’ll need up to 50,000 to be hosted in homes across Sydney.
“Sydneysiders are a friendly and generous bunch, and we believe many will open their hearts and their homes to young pilgrims from out of town.”
Sydney residents Cheryl Fernandez and her brother Carl stayed with two separate families in Cologne, Germany during World Youth Day 2005, and their family is planning to host pilgrims next year.
“HomeStay is a fantastic way for Sydneysiders to play a very important role in an historic international event,” said Cheryl.
“This is an opportunity to promote Australia’s hospitality and community spirit. It’s not just for Catholics, but the wider Sydney community.
“When I was in Cologne I was treated like a member of the family, and that’s something that I will cherish forever. Now the event is here in Sydney, I want to return the favour and show our overseas visitors the great Australian hospitality that we are renowned for.
“Families that speak a language other than English in particular should get involved and host non-English speaking pilgrims,” she said.
Communities all around Sydney are preparing to take in pilgrims next year. The Fernandez family are part of the Maroubra community which is preparing to take in as many pilgrims as they can house.
HomeStay providers will be asked to supply sleeping spaces and breakfast for two or more pilgrims.
Applications to participate in HomeStay and further details of the program are available now at www.wyd2008.org/homestay or you can find out details through local schools and Catholic parishes.
Burlington, Vt., Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - The Latin Mass will be made available to those Vermont Catholics who seek it, Bishop Salvatore Matano announced in a July 6th letter to the faithful in his diocese.
The bishop made the announcement, following Pope Benedict XVI’s recent universal approval of the 1962 Latin Mass.
"I will consult with our council of priests ... to determine the most suitable manner for making the 'extraordinary form' of the Sacred Liturgy available to those who request it," wrote Bishop Matano.
Latin Masses will be offered occasionally around the state based on worshippers' requests.
However, Fr. John McDermott, chancellor for the Vermont diocese, said last week that the church needs time to prepare to offer the Latin Mass. Many of the young priests do not know Latin and the older priests would have to brush up on it, he said. Other priests and choirs will have to be trained, reported The Burlington Free Press.
Until the training is complete, the diocese is urging churches to have sections of the Mass sung in Latin where the request is made.
Following the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Mass became the extraordinary form of celebrating the Liturgy and required a bishop’s permission to be used. The ordinary form of the Liturgy became the Roman Missal of Paul VI, which switched the language of celebration to the vernacular, among other changes.
Lisbon, Portugal, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - A law, legalizing abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, went into effect in Portugal on Sunday.
Women who choose to abort will have to go through a compulsory medical appointment to be properly informed about the consequences of abortion, reported Reuters.
The country held a referendum on the legalization of abortion in February. The referendum was invalid because of the low turnout but, of those who voted, 59 percent wanted to lift the ban. That led the ruling Socialist Party in parliament to vote in favor of legalizing abortion.
According to Reuters, Portuguese media reported that at least nine regional hospitals will not offer abortions because the doctors there refuse to perform them.
Naples, Fla., Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - The town of Ave Maria, built around the Catholic Ave Maria University, welcomed its first residents in May, and more families are expected to move in throughout the summer and fall.
Mike and Cecilia O’Shea, along with their four daughters, Maureen, 3, Erin, 7, Caitlin, 7, and Maggie, 5, were the first of 11,000 potential households to move into the new 5,000-acre town on May 30.
The O’Sheas purchased a two-story home in Pulte Homes’ Hampton Village community. It has five bedrooms and four bathrooms, along with a spacious backyard and two living rooms. The 225 homes planned for Hampton Village range in price from the mid-$300,000s to high-$400,000s.
The 40-year-old father of four girls said the lifestyle offered in Ave Maria, close to Naples, is exactly what he and his wife were seeking for their family, reported the Naples Daily News.
They want to send their children to a Catholic school with the highest standards in academics and discipline, and “a more traditional approach, rather than the modern view many Catholic schools teach now,” Mike was quoted as saying.
Their daughters’ school will likely be taught by the sisters who live next door. The town’s oratory, or parish church, is within walking distance. La Piazza, the European-inspired Town Center, surrounds the Oratory.
The O’Sheas moved to Ave Maria from Tampa. They lived about 10 miles from the nearest parish and felt cut off from the parish community. “This will benefit us, because we’ll be closer to volunteer our time and efforts to the school and church,” Mike was quoted as saying.
Mike’s office is also within walking distance. He works for Legatus, an organization of Catholic chief executive officers, which will open an office in Ave Maria in November. Cecilia, 40, is a stay-at-home mom.
The O’Sheas enjoy living in a town with limited access to activities and lifestyles that go against a Catholic lifestyle.
“Sometimes people ask us, ‘Why do you want to shelter yourself from the real world?’ But I don’t think we’re sheltering,” Mike was quoted as saying. “Naples is as ‘real world’ as anywhere else, and it’s right down the street.
“It’s important that children are not exposed to things out there that can really harm them. When they get older and grow up, I think they’ll have the same positive experiences as any other child,” he said.
An Ave Maria Townfest, open to the public, is planned for July 21 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for those interested in walking the plaza, viewing home models or university buildings.
The town and Ave Maria University were founded by former Domino’s Pizza owner, turned Catholic philanthropist, Tom Monaghan.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Emeritus Miguel Hesayne of Viedma (Argentina) said this week members of the Church cannot “abstain from their political commitment,” but he noted that just as the laity should not be “the long arm of the hierarchy,” neither should “the Church be locked in the sanctuary.”
Bishop Hesayne indicate that a “member of the Church cannot abstain from his political commitment if he wants to be faithful to the command of Jesus to be leaven, salt and light for the society in which he lives.”
He said Christians must be conscious of their “particular vocation” in the political arena and that it should not be surprising to hear a priest apply the gospel to political, social, cultural and technological realities.
On the contrary, he continued, “the laity must “demand ‘that Gospel’ from their pastors,” in order bring it into their own sphere and, in the case of politics, “into the voting polls in order to know how to elect and demand that elected officials keep their campaign promises and to place the government “at the service of the people.”
Citing Vatican II, Bishop Hesayne recalled that Catholics “have the possibility and the vocation of exercising political responsibilities and should prepare themselves to seek to carry it out, setting aside their own interests and all venial gain.”
He also called on Catholics to fight with “moral integrity and prudence against injustice and oppression, against intolerance and the absolutism of one man or political party” in order to be devoted “with sincerity and uprightness, and even more so with charity and political strength, to the service of all.”
Vatican City, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - Before reciting the Angelus on Sunday at Mirabello Castle, near the spot where he is vacationing in northern Italy, Pope Benedict XVI said vacations are not only a time for physical rest but also for spiritual enrichment through extended moments of prayer and meditation in order to grow in one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Every good Christian knows that vacations are an opportune time to stretch one's body and to nourish the spirit in more ample spaces of prayer and meditation, to grow in one's personal relationship with Christ, and to conform more and more to his teachings,” the Pope said.
As he began his message, Pope Benedict thanked the Lord for the possibility to spend some days of rest in the mountains, and he expressed his gratitude “to those who have welcomed me here in Lorenzago, in this enchanting panorama in which the summit of Mount Cadore forms the background and where my beloved predecessor John Paul II visited several times.”
“Before this scene of meadows, of woods, of peaks ascending toward heaven,” the Pope said, “the desire to praise God for the marvel of his works spontaneously arises in the soul and easily transforms itself into prayer.”
La Paz, Bolivia, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba, Bolivia, said this week the country’s new Constitution being drafted by the Constitutional Assembly must guarantee freedom of consciences, religion and worship, which are now “recognized in the universal culture,” as well as the fundamental values of life, the family and education.
In an article published by the archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Solari noted that the Church “proclaims respect for life from conception to natural death,” as life is a gift from God. Likewise, he added, the family, the basic cell of society, “must be cared for and protected by the State above all other institutions.”
“The family, which God has created, is made up of one man and one woman, he said. “There is no other kind of family.”
In the article, Archbishop Solari also referred to education saying, “the school is a public good,” and that parents should be the ones to decide what kind of education their children should receive. In addition, he said, “comprehensive education must include a reference to the transcendent, that is, to religion.”
He also said the bishops believe that the Church should be recognized as a collective body with public rights. “Her entire mission is to serve the community, with preference for the poor, the humble and the marginalized,” he added.
Archbishop Solari said these points were essential to the Christian life and that “one cannot call oneself Christian if one does not assume these points as part of one’s identity.” He said the bishops’ intention was not to impose these points on members of the Assembly but rather “to simply propose them.”
“In no way do we understand our initiative to be a gesture against a party or an action that divides Bolivians. Rather, we think these could be points of great convergence and the basis for a renewed Bolivia,” the archbishop said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - The director of the Institute for Bioethics of the Catholic University of La Plata, Juan Carlos Caprile, said this week that respect for terminally ill patients demands they be cared for and not killed.
Caprile commented on a proposed law in the province of Rio Negro that would allow terminally ill patients to put limits on their treatment in order not to prolong their illnesses. The director said palliative care is a better option because it helps terminally ill patients to avoid “extraordinary sufferings.”
He said the Institute is in agreement that disproportionate means should not be used if there is no chance for improvement, but he said, the Institute opposes the exclusion of food and hydration from basic care.
According to Caprile, “Reasonable therapeutic treatment is duly established in the so-called Palliative Care and helps avoid unnecessary suffering in these cases.”
“In this sense, he said, “the decisions of the patients should be considered starting from respect for their own life and the moral autonomy of the doctor whose task is not to destroy life but to save it.” “The relationship of freedom/responsibility between the patient and the doctor should not be conceived of in the sense that the doctor is a substitute for the will of the patient, but also neither should the doctor have to be the executor of the will of the patient in determining his death, justifying the exercise of supposed mercy in response to the patient’s pain,” Caprile warned.
He stressed that doctors should put their knowledge at the service of alleviating suffering, “not only physical but also psychiatric and spiritual.” “When a patient is in a terminal state the doctor should give him or her basic hydration and nutrition as well as the rest of the so-called palliative care, avoiding the use of extraordinary or disproportionate means that have no prospect of improvement.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 16, 2007 (CNA) - The bishops of the Spanish region of Catalonia, who gathered July 10-12, called on school officials to respect and enter into dialogue with “the just demands” of those who conscientiously object to the controversial Education for Citizenship class.
In a statement published on its website, the bishops also said they were in full agreement with the statements about the class issued by the Executive Committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain.
During their meeting the bishops also discussed the upcoming beatification of 498 Spanish martyrs, “most of them diocesan and religious priests, who gave their lives in testimony to the faith during the 1930s, in Spain, among whom were a number of Catalonian martyrs.”
“The bishops thank God for the magnificent testimony of holiness that these Christians gave in times of persecution, as they gave their lives for love of Christ, they offered their forgiveness to those who took their lives, and they were bearers of reconciliation and peace,” they said.