Archive of August 1, 2007

Benedict XVI calls Christians to look to God to create a “just and fraternal world”

Vatican City, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father resumed his weekly catechesis today picking up where he left off in early July when he began vacation. The Pope held up St. Basil, a bishop and fourth-century Doctor of the Church as an example of a man who was open to God and thus able to discern what is true and good.

He was a great figure who “frequently exhorted the people of his day to give to the poor,” the Pope said.  “Indeed, if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we ought not to own any more than our neighbor owns. We must not offend Christ with inhumanity towards others.”

Drawing further on St. Basil’s example, the Pope said virtue is the only inalienable good which remains both during life and after death and that only by being open to God “can we create a just and fraternal world”.    He also referred to St. Basil’s ability to discern what is true and serves our spiritual growth. 

At the audience, his first since returning from vacation in the Italy’s mountainous Dolomite region, the Holy Father also took time to greet 200 scouts, present to celebrate 100 years of the scouting movement. 

Praising the movement’s contribution to education, he said: “My thoughts go to all of the scouts and guides across the world”, and he expressed his wish that the movement, founded through the “profound intuition” of Lord Baden Powell in 1907, “would  continue to bear fruit in human, spiritual and civil education all over the world.”


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Pope Benedict rejoices with Iraqis over soccer victory

Vatican City, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - “Just as so many times I have cried with the Iraqi people, on this occasion I rejoiced with them,”, said a visibly moved Pope Benedict XVI at the end of his General Audience today.

Speaking in the Paul VI auditorium, the Pope made a point of referring to the victory of the Iraqi soccer team which won the Asia Cup tournament July 30th, spectacularly beating Saudi Arabia 1-0.  He said the news created a “popular explosion of joy” which spread throughout the country, and was a moment which “revealed the desire of the people to have a normal life of serenity”. 

“It is my hope,” he said, “that this event, with everyone's support, may contribute to a future in Iraq of real peace in liberty and mutual respect.  Congratulations!”

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Brownback says rival should apologize for Catholic slur

Washington D.C., Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback said rival Mike Huckabee should apologize for a supporter's "prejudiced whisper campaign" against him for being Catholic.

According to a report by The Associated Press, Rev. Tim Rude, pastor of Walnut Creek Community Church, sent an e-mail to Brownback supporters pointing out that Huckabee is an evangelical Protestant and Brownback is not. In the e-mail, Rude calls Huckabee — a former Arkansas governor and an ordained Baptist minister — "one of us."

"I know Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002," wrote Rude. "Frankly, as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about his discernment when compared to the governor's."

Rude apologized Tuesday, saying he never meant to sound critical of Catholicism.

"In no way do I think a Catholic would not make a great president,” he reportedly said. “In fact, if Governor Huckabee drops out of the race, I will support Senator Brownback."

Brownback said through a spokesman that Huckabee should apologize. But Huckabee's campaign did not. Huckabee spokesman Eric Woolson said Rude is not a campaign staffer and was expressing a personal opinion in a private e-mail.

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Elderly Italian man runs across ten countries to pray at tomb of evangelizer of China

Rome, Italy, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - A 60 year-old Italian man ran an extensive marathon covering ten countries in order to pray before the tomb of Father Mateo Ricci, the Jesuit priest who began the evangelization of China.


The journey of Ulderico Lambertucci will be featured on Italian television starting August 5. Viewers will be able to follow Lambertucci on the satellite, Sat2000—which belongs to the Church in Italy—as he runs through Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Moldavia, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and other countries until he reaches China.


According to Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the Pope’s Vicar General for Vatican City, the 60 year-old Italian has offered his fatigue as a prayer “that China may understand that she is loved by Jesus Christ, like other nations.”  Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata said “to arrive at the tomb of Father Matteo Ricci is a strong signal, especially now with the Pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics.”


Daniele Morini, producer of the program, said during his journey Lambertucci “encountered many men and women of faith dedicated to evangelization in places where it is difficult and risky.”

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Philippine bishops form committee to fight child porn

Manila, Philippines, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of the Philippines formed an ad-hoc committee on Tuesday to lead effective campaigns in the Church and the media to help stamp out child pornography.


Former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Henrietta de Villa was elected chair of the ad-hoc committee. She said advocacy against child pornography would mobilize the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Phillipines) commissions, Catholic schools and universities and mandated organizations.


Last week, Optical Media Board head Eduardo Manzano sought the bishops’ assistance to lead the campaign against the proliferation of child pornographic materials in department stores and shopping malls.


The bishops expect to receive the ad-hoc committee’s first report Aug. 9.

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Austrians can receive text messages from Pope

, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - Organizers of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Austria next month are offering the faithful daily cell phone text messages with quotes from the pontiff.

The Archdiocese of Vienna said the service, which began Sunday and will continue through the Pope's Sept. 7-9 visit, provides free excerpts of his sermons, blessings and writings. Some of the quotations will date to the pope's days as a cardinal in Germany.

People can sign up, and there's no extra charge apart from the usual costs to send text messages.

Benedict's trip to Austria, includes a stop at the Mariazell Shrine to mark the 850th anniversary of its founding, a Mass at Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral, and a visit to an abbey outside the Austrian capital.

This trip will be the Pope’s seventh in his two-year papacy.

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Mexican city to organize Festival for Life in September

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - On Saturday, September 8, the city of Santiago de Queretaro will hold the Festival for Life at the Corregidora Stadium, in an effort to set a precedent for the promotion of the culture of life, encouraging the faithful to foster it in politics and education as well as in the works of the apostolate and prayer.

During the free event, there will be conferences, testimonies, moments of prayer and sharing.  In addition, videos on the development of the child in the womb and on abortion will be presented, with the aim of sensitizing people in the promotion of life and encouraging spiritual adoption of babies in danger of being aborted.  The closing Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Mario de Gasperin of Queretaro.

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13 million hits in first three days of new Vatican City State website

Rome, Italy, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - The General  Secretary of the Governorate of the Vatican City State, Bishop Renato Boccardo, said that since its launch, the Vatican City’s new website “received 13 million hits during the first three days.”

“The objective of this site is to offer a good service to pilgrims and tourists,” the bishop explained.  “Therefore I think it is necessary to use the modern means, as was always the desire of John Paul II and now Benedict XVI,” he said.

“We are in the heart of Vatican City State, called the ‘Governorate.’ This is where the administration of this small State is.  This is also where the server for the new site is,” he continued.

The new site’s webmaster, Eugenio Hasler, said, “The Vatican is very complex.  Its interior is divided into sectors.  We have, for example, the Holy See, the State, etc.  Therefore we thought that we would present these facts through the new website in order to provide information about the departments, sectors and officials that are here.”

“This is something new for the Vatican and it has attracted many people. Its one of the reasons the site has had so many visitors,” Hasler said.

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Bishop of Orlando responds to concerns over Vatican statements on "one true Church"

Orlando, Fla., Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - Is the pope Catholic? Well, yeah. But considering the reaction that the recent reaffirmation of the Catholic Church's self-understanding (issued under the pope's signature by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) received, you might think that many were surprised to learn that the pope is, well, still Catholic.

Of course, many non-Catholics, expressed hurt, incomprehension, even anger. However, the statement, "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church," in reality said nothing new. Dominus Jesus, issued in 2000 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said the same thing. And this was nothing more than another reaffirmation of Catholic teachings found in Vatican II and in the constant tradition of the Roman Catholic Church: Namely, that the Church, willed by Christ as a visible and spiritual community, actually continues to exist in the Catholic Church as a continual concrete, historical reality.

Much of the overwrought reaction, I believe, was caused not so much by what was said but by how it was reported in the secular media. Did the media deliberately give it a negative spin?

Not necessarily. We can and should presume their good faith. However, they often get it wrong because in reality we often do not speak the same language: The pope speaks in the languages of philosophy and theology; most modern reporters, untrained in these disciplines, speak more comfortably in the idioms of sociology and psychology.

Most Catholics, including the pope, would not deny that myriad denominations that have emerged in the almost 500 years since the Protestant Reformation are indeed "churches" according to the popular -- i.e., sociological -- idiom in which people speak today. But we do say, as did the Second Vatican Council, they are not churches -- as Catholic theology understands "church."

In fact, most Protestants, especially those who hold that Jesus did not found a visible hierarchical structure with apostolic succession and a Petrine office as Catholics do, would readily agree. They believe themselves to be churches, but they do not believe themselves to be churches in the Catholic sense. Our understandings of "church" simply differ. In any case, we Catholics do believe that, "separated churches and communities . . . are neither deprived of significance or importance in the mystery of Salvation."

Does this reaffirmation of Catholic teaching impede the ecumenical movement and the dialogue with those whom we have called our "separated brethren" since Vatican II?

Not according to Metropolitan Kiril of the Russian Orthodox Church. He called the statement "honest" and preferable to a diplomatic approach that dodges the tough issues. Dialogue in the ecumenical and interfaith context should not mean "splitting the differences" or soft pedaling the real differences that exist. Many religious communities -- most Baptists, for example -- shun such dialogues because they believe that this is precisely what is implied.

To dialogue -- and to forge from dialogue, relationships, based on mutual trust and understanding -- cannot mean setting aside or bracketing how one's own tradition understands the truth. Ecumenical dialogue is aimed at restoring unity to the Body of Christ, but such unity is built on truth, not at the expense of truth. Dialogue is not about undermining one another's truth claims but understanding them. The Catholic-Lutheran dialogue in recent years on "justification by faith" is one very good example of such honest and, therefore, fruitful dialogue.

A few weeks ago, the Sunday magazine of The New York Times profiled Robert Novak, the noted journalist and news pundit -- and recent convert to the Catholic faith. Asked why he converted from Judaism, he answered the same way that the pope would. It is the same answer the every well-catechized Catholic would give: "I believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church."

Such a statement is never meant to be a conversation stopper; it is, however, an invitation to further dialogue.

Thomas G. Wenski is the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

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Church mediates agreement ending strike by copper workers in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - During talks mediated by the Catholic Church in Chile,  officials of the state-run Corporation of Copper and union leaders of the Confederation of Copper Workers established an agreement to put an end to the strike that has paralyzed the industry for more than a month.

In a statement entitled, “A good sign for Chile,” Archbishop Alejandro Goic of Rancagua, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, expressed gratitude to both sides for their trust in the Church, and he called on workers to return to their jobs as soon as possible and on the companies to promote dialogue with their employees.

The strike by copper workers lasted 37 days and has resulted in losses totaling $40 million, according to company figures.

“While it does not completely satisfy the original demands of the workers, the terms of the agreement signify a step forward, which has been achieved thanks to the good will of both parties, whose attitudes we thank and appreciate,” the statement announcing the agreement indicated.

Archbishop Goic called on business leaders and workers to “re-establish the trust necessary for keeping the channels of permanent dialogue open that guarantee the fulfillment of the proposed agreement and the collaboration of all for the good of the company, its workers and their families.”

The archbishop noted that the conflict has forced Chileans to confront issues that must be dealt with and has shown that the Church will continue working for the common good of society.

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California bishops back two of three proposed marriage-protection initiatives

Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - The California Catholic Conference, which represents all the bishops in the state, has decided not to support a marriage-protection initiative that would also void domestic partnership rights. However, it will co-sponsor two less stringent proposals.

The attorney general approved the three proposed amendments to the state constitution. In order to qualify for the June 2008 ballot, each initiative requires signatures from 694,354 registered voters., a project of the Campaign for California Families, is circulating the initiative the bishops refuse to support. This measure, titled “Marriage. Elimination of Domestic Partnership Rights”, would restrict marriage in California to one man and one woman and void all domestic partnership rights previously adopted by the state.

"We do not work with them as their tone, tactics and rhetoric are disturbing," Carol Hogan, Pastoral Projects and Communications director for the California Conference, told the Tidings.

The Tidings reported that the bishops would co-sponsor two other initiatives. One would enshrine in the constitution that marriage in California must be between one man and one woman. The other also includes the one-man, one-woman definition, but adds: “the amendment shall not affect the rights, benefits and obligations conferred by California law on other domestic relationships.”

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Head of Romanian Orthodox Church dies, Pope sends telegram

Vatican City, Aug 1, 2007 (CNA) - The head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Teoctist, died of a heart attack on Monday at the age of 92. As head of the Romanian Church, Teoctist helped to improve relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

In 1999, at Patriarch Teoctist’s invitation, Pope John Paul II visited Romania and thus became the first Catholic Pope to visit an Orthodox country. This trip helped to bridge the ancient divide between the two Churches and was reciprocated by a 2002 visit to Rome by the Patriarch.
Pope Benedict XVI said in a telegram sent yesterday to the Romanian church that these initiatives “strengthened and gave new impulse to the growing friendship and improving fraternal relations between the Churches.”

He also wrote, “Both men were filled with a determination to write a new page in the history of our communities, overcoming a difficult past which still burdens us today, and looking forward with confidence to the day when the divisions among the followers of Christ will be overcome.”

"Patriarch Teoctist died at 5:00 pm," Constantin Popa, manager of the Fundeni hospital in Bucharest, told Reuters. He was undergoing prostrate surgery when he suffered a heart attack and did not respond to resuscitation efforts.

Teoctist, who was born in 1915, became the head of the Orthodox Church in 1986.
Eighty-seven percent of Romanians belong to the Church.

One of his main projects was to build a "Cathedral of the Nation's Absolution", which like the vast Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow, was to be seen as a symbol of rebirth after 50 years of communist repression. However, land and financing problems have delayed its construction.

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