London, England, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) -
Peter Phillips, the Queen of Great Britain’s eldest grandson, may have to give up his place in the line of succession for the throne because his fiancée is Roman Catholic.
This past week Buckingham Palace announced the engagement between Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly, a Canadian management consultant, but no mention of a date for their marriage was made.
Even more interesting, is the fact that Autumn Kelly is Catholic. Ms. Kelly’s Catholicism brings to the light of day the 1701 Act of Settlement which bars any member of the Royal family from becoming or marrying Catholics. If Mr. Phillips has to renounce his rights to inherit the throne, it would be an embarrassment to the royal family and to the government.
Catholics have repeatedly called for a repeal of the act but thus far attempts to change the law have failed. Under the act, Mr. Phillips will be required to renounce his right to the throne -- he is 10th in line at present-- or Ms. Kelly will have to formally renounce her Catholic faith.
Buckingham Palace said yesterday that a wedding date had not been set and "if a decision has to be made, it will be made at the time of the marriage." Little is known about Ms. Kelly, who moved to Britain shortly after meeting Mr. Phillips at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003.
The Tablet, the Catholic weekly, has now established that she was baptized on June 18, 1978, at St. John Fisher parish church in Point-Claire, a suburb of Montreal. A spokesman for the church told the Daily Telegraph that Ms. Kelly's mother, Kitty, had authorized the information to be disclosed, saying that her daughter was proud of her religion.
Attempts to revoke the law have been made. John Gummer, a member of the Parliament who converted to Catholicism, tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament earlier this year in a bid to overturn the remaining anti-Catholic legislation.
Mr. Gummer said: "It is unacceptable that the part of the Christian church that has more active adherents than any other should be discriminated against in this way." In other comments, he slammed the law saying, "It is inhuman in the 21st century for anyone to demand this."
According to the Act, which discriminates uniquely against Catholics, there is nothing barring a monarch from marrying a Hindu, Muslim or someone from any other faith.
Denver, Colo., Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - A Colorado state board approved a ballot measure on Wednesday to define personhood in the Colorado Constitution as a fertilized egg. The board rejected arguments that were presented by several pro-abortion groups, including the Colorado Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, against the measure.
According to the Denver Post, the three-member Ballot Title Board, led by Deputy Secretary of State William Hobbs, said it does not judge the merits of a measure, just the ballot language. The language about personhood is clear, they said.
The ballot measure is sponsored by Colorado for Equal Rights, led by 19-year-old Kristine Burton. The initiative would lay the foundation for making abortion and certain forms of contraception illegal in the state.
Colorado for Equal Rights wants voters to amend the constitution in November 2008 to define a person as any human being from the moment of fertilization for the purposes of protecting inalienable rights to life and liberty, equality of justice and due process of law.
In order to get the measure on the ballot, the group must now get petition wording approved by the secretary of state and then collect more than 76,000 voter signatures in six months.
Concord, N.H., Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - The Church of England would be close to shutting down if it wasn’t for its gay clergy, said the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop in an interview with The Times of London.
Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who lives with his partner, said he finds it "mystifying" that the Church of England is unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks.
“If all the gay people stayed away from church on a given Sunday, the Church of England would be close to shut-down between its organists, its clergy, its wardens … it just seems less than humble not to admit that," he was quoted as saying.
He said many clergy live with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishops. But their bishops warn against their relationships becoming public.
"It’s a terrible way to live your life and I think it’s a terrible way to be a church. I think integrity is so important. What does it mean for a clergy person to be in a pulpit calling the parishioners to a life of integrity when they can’t even live a life of integrity with their own bishop and their own church?” Robinson said.
He said the Episcopal Church has been ordaining gay priests "for many, many years" and the Church of England should admit that gay clergy is not just an American issue.
Speaking of his recent meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, Bishop Robinson said: "It was very private and I was eager and willing to accommodate him and when he asked me not to function liturgically or to preach I was saddened by that, but I want to help him as much as I can. I’m limited in what I can do and I won’t step down, but other than that I am eager to try and help him any way that I can. I certainly would not do so (celebrate or preach) without his permission."
He said he has the support of several bishops in the Church of England, but he declined to name them.
He criticized proposals to discipline The Episcopal Church for its actions in consecrating him. "The whole notion of punishment being meted out to provinces of the Anglican Communion that are somehow non-compliant is somehow antithetical to the whole Anglican tradition, positing some sort of centralized Curia that has the ability and the authority to do such a thing, is about as un-Anglican as you can imagine. After all, our church was founded in resistance to a centralized authority in Rome," he was quoted as saying.
If the Episcopal Church were to be expelled eventually from the Communion, it would be "diminished" by its lack of connection to the church in the rest of the world,” he stated.
He added, however, that “no matter what happens to the Communion” the Episcopal Church will keep the connections it has in Africa, Asia and South America.
Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the nation's first openly gay Episcopal bishop, has given his endorsement to presidential hopeful Barack Obama, citing the Illinois Democrat's experience with racism and discrimination.
Obama's campaign put out a news release announcing Robinson’s support. It identified Robinson as "a civil rights leader and a leading voice in the faith community."
The bishop says he hopes to persuade Obama to embrace same-sex marriage. Obama supports civil unions and rights for gay couples, but stops short of supporting gay marriage.
The Washington Post reported that three hours after the announcement, Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said it was "just the latest example of candidates misusing religious leaders for political gain."
Gaddy said he was sending a letter to all the presidential candidates asking them not to make endorsements that appear to be speaking on behalf of their house of worship or denomination.
"In recent presidential campaigns little concern has been in evidence about the negative consequences that certain political strategies bring about for houses of worship," Gaddy's letter reads.
Mandalay, Myanmar, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - Just a few years ago, Ywadaw, a Catholic village in central Myanmar with about 220 families, was a disorganized and underdeveloped community. But the village has been transformed due to the villagers' efforts and some help from Karuna Mandalay, the social service agency of Mandalay Archdiocese.
Joseph Rein Moe, 53, told UCA News the transformation took hard work but was worth it. As an example he recalled how the village's only transportation link was a muddy or dusty track, depending on whether it rained.
With the rains came flooding. "I went to the market walking through mud," he said. "It was very difficult for the villagers. I had to carry my bicycle on my shoulder."
The lack of a paved road, however, was not the only problem. Ordinary villagers had little say in running the village of more than 200 houses since only the elders gave orders. People didn't know how to manage money or health emergencies. Children only attended school for a few years at the primary level.
But Karuna Mandalay launched an education and small-scale infrastructure project in June 2004. The project taught villagers about leadership skills, sustainable agriculture and development principles.
Villagers also organized a road-building committee. They collected sand, stones and donations that amounted to 1.9 million kyat (nearly US$1,500) from villagers and began road construction in April 2005. Karuna contributed technical and financial support. The road was completed three months later.
The villagers also learned how to raise animals for meat and improve their agricultural productivity, by harvesting two rice crops a year instead of one as well as vegetables. The new road allows the villagers to take more products to the market.
With the increased earnings, the people improved their living conditions. Families have begun to replace their bamboo houses with two-story wooden houses, of which 25 have been built to date.
In 2008, the village school will become a middle school offering education up to age 13. Village meetings have also become more democratic, allowing for more participation of women as well.
Authorities have designated Ywadaw a "model village." Archbishop Paul Grawng of Mandalay attributes the village's success to villagers' "spirit of unity and teamwork."
Vatican City, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram to the Scouts gathered in Chelmsford, England, for their Jamboree celebrating 100 years of Scouting, reminding them they are “called to continue offering their invaluable service.”
In the telegram signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, the Pontiff underscored that, “In a time in which young people are confused and misguided,” the Scouts “are called to continue offering their invaluable service.” The Holy Father noted that Scouting has allowed “millions of youngsters to become adults who are free, generous and responsible, making use of their talents given by God and putting them at the service of their brothers and sisters.”
The Pope also expressed gratitude for the great benefits of Scouting and pointed out its contribution to the development of the human person.
The telegram was read at the end of a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who thanked the Scouts for their effort to create a better world. “The Church needs your generosity, your faith and your love for the future,” the cardinal said.
The Jamboree in Chelmsford will run through August 8, with more than 40,000 Scouts from around the world participating in the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the first Scout camp that took place in August of 1907 on the British island of Brownsea.
Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino of Caracas warned this week there are indications that President Hugo Chavez’s “21st Century Socialism” is “similar to Marxist Socialism and totalitarianism” and that should that be the case, the Catholic Church in Venezuela would reject it.
In an interview on state-run television, the cardinal emphasized, “Our interest is that things go well in the country, our purpose is to work for the good of the country and our concerns are about some things that could be negative for the country, such as the problem of what defines the 21st Century Socialism that the president is promoting.”
“There are certain clues that indicate this is similar to Marxist socialism and totalitarianism. It seems this is the case. If so, we would not agree with it. If not, it needs to be defined,” the cardinal explained.
He noted that if Chavez’s idea consists of a democratic socialism the Church could support it. On the other hand, if his idea of the state is one where it is absolute, such as in China, where “the State even tells families how many children they can have,” then the Church cannot give its support. He went on, the Church cannot support a system “that ruined every nation that was a part of Marxist socialism.”
“We don’t want that Marxist socialism for Venezuela,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s what the goal is, but I am saying we are concerned.”
Church not involved in political conspiracies
Likewise, Cardinal Urosa rejected the idea that the Church is involved in a conspiracy against the Venezuelan government. “I have heard on a program on channel 8 that the nucleus of the conspiracy against the government is in the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela and the Andres Bello Catholic University,” he said. “There is nothing further from the truth. We have nothing to do with conspiracies or secret political meetings,” the cardinal stated.
“The Venezuelan bishops are not aligned with the opposition, but rather with the mission of working for the good of the country, to teach to the truth and bring peace to the country,” he added.
Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - Speaking on Union Radio, the president of the Committee on Culture and the Media of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, lamented the insistence of President Hugo Chavez in linking the Church to the coup attempt of April 2002.
The archbishop recalled that at that time, Chavez himself thanked the bishops in private for having protected him, but in public he has repeated the “cliché” that is part of his manipulation to “beat up on and slander such an institution as the Church.”
“We’re facing a new attack that is intended to deny the Church’s participation at that time, which was very clear and transparent,” Archbishop Porras said, pointing out that Chavez is trying to make the Church appear divided and that one group is with the people and one group is with the rotten leaders of the country.”
The archbishop noted that the same thing was said in the days after the events of April 11, 2002. “This contradicts what the president himself said on April 24 in a meeting with the bishops for several hours. It’s interesting that the first words he said were of gratitude to Cardinal Velasco and secondly to me for our role in the events of those days and for protecting him.”
Archbishop Porras also recalled that at that time, Chavez said it would be good to express his sentiments “in public and before the media, and that never happened. Since then he has always tried to implicate the Church in those events” of April 2002.
In April of 2002, “the only thing we did was respond to a call by the president himself in order to carry out a priestly and humanitarian duty to protect his life and the lives of those who were with him, and now he wants to make it look like the Church was part of the plot against him,” the archbishop said.
He recalled how President Chavez asked the Church for help on that occasion. “At midnight between April 11 and 12, Rodriguez Chacin, then interior minister, told me the president wanted to speak with me. He handed me the phone and the president said, ‘Forgive me for all of the terrible things I have said about you. I am calling to ask if you would be willing to protect my life and the lives of the people with me.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - During a Mass on the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires launched a fundraising campaign to restore the historic church dedicated to the founder of Jesuits.
The restoration of the church is scheduled to be completed in 2010, as part of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of its founding. It was built in 1675 by the Jesuits and inaugurated in 1722.
The $2 million project will be carried out by the National Architecture Management and the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires, which seeks to raise some $600,000 for the restoration.
After the Mass, Father Francisco Baigorri, pastor of St. Ignatius, said the collection totaled some $4,000. “We are very thankful for your response,” he told parishioners.
“The parish carries out important pastoral and social work in a poor area,” Father Baigorri explained. “It’s important to realize that our patrimony is the responsibility of all.”
Currently the restoration work is focusing on the main altar, built in the 17th century, and on the organ. More information can be found at www.sanignaciodeloyola.org.ar
Tegucigalpa, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - A Honduran government official in charge of the country’s cultural heritage said this week the government would return 600 pieces of sacred art that have been stolen from various churches in the country during that last thirteen years.
Jani Del Cid said during a press conference, “These are pieces of incalculable historical value that we have recovered after they were stolen from churches in Honduras.” She said the pieces, including sculptures, paintings, chalices, censers and candle holders, were being cared for by the government and by the Institute of Anthropology and History.
She also reported that only “one oil painting had been sold on the internet for $50,000, which means its religious value is incalculable.” She said officials would meet “with leaders of the Catholic Church to return these objects to them and they will decide where they shall be displayed or if they shall be returned to the churches they were stolen from since 1994.”
Del Cid did not say whether those responsible for the thefts were in custody, and she explained that official investigations indicate that the objects were stolen in order to be sold to private collections.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 3, 2007 (CNA) - In a recent reflection, Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes warned that “sin always existed, since the first one was committed,” but that in today’s world sin has been distorted and this should be called “establishing a new morality without norms or principles.”
In a world in which there is no respect for family, religion or purity, he said, “a culture of distortion that proposes anti-values” is being foisted on children, young people and the poor, “as if they were the new values of progress and modernity.”
“Prayer, as Jesus teaches it, is of little importance to this disturbed generation,” Archbishop Castagna said, adding that, “mankind seeks after that which satisfies his whims and not that which he truly needs,” and therefore even “the strongest of believers become angry with God when their complaints are not answered as they wish.”
“Is this progress?” the archbishop asked. While the Church speaks out about the dangers facing believers and strives to provide them guidance, “other voices seek to discredit” the bishops and impose belief systems and behavior that are “contrary to the faith and to Christian morality,” he said.
“The modern Pharisees set up booby traps for good people, creating division, inventing fallacies, undermining good will and portraying the best men and women as deceitful,” Archbishop Castagna stated.
“We can always find wounds to heal and profound doubts to be resolved. Nobody is ignoring the deficiencies and contradictions that impede the course of history,” but “now is not the time to cast blame but rather to find serene answers and accept responsibilities,” he added, saying to do so requires “silence and prayer” and “allowing our personal and social lives to be illuminated by the Word.”