Paris, France, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, Archbishop Emeritus of Paris and one of the key players on the European stage during the second half of the 20th century, died in Paris on Sunday at the age of 80.
Cardinal Lustiger had been in a Paris hospital since April 23. In October of 2006 he told the priests and deacons of Paris he was suffering from “a serious illness.”
Born Aaron Lustiger on September 17, 1926, in Paris to a family of Jewish merchants from Poland, he converted to Catholicism in 1940 at the age of 14, taking the name Jean Marie, two years after his mother was deported in 1942 to Auschwitz, where she died.
After many overcoming many difficulties he was ordained to the priesthood in Paris in 1954.
Lustiger was chaplain for 15 years at the Sorbone, where he himself studied as a youth. In 1969 he was pastor of various parishes in Paris and was named Bishop of Orleans by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
In 1981 he was named Archbishop of Paris and in 1983 he was made a cardinal. Known for his close relationship to John Paul II, Cardinal Lustiger sought to enthusiastically implement the “new evangelization” in an increasingly secular France. Many attribute the current religious reawakening in France in part to the efforts of the late cardinal.
The cardinal accompanied John Paul II on his trip to Israel in 2000, when the Pontiff characterized the Holocaust as a “Golgotha of modern times.”
Especially active in the intellectual world and author of numerious books, Cardinal Lustiger was also elected a member of the prestigious French Academy in June of 1995.
In a brief statement, the Archdiocese of Paris noted that the cardinal played “a notable role in our society and in the intellectual debates of our time.” During his visit to the United States this past week, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said that on Sunday, France lost “a great figure of the religious, moral, intellectual and spiritual life of our country.”
The funeral for the late cardinal will be held Friday morning at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and will be celebrated by his successor, Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois.
Kampala, Uganda, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - The visit of Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has provided the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, with the chance to extend an invitation for Pope Benedict to visit the East African country.
Cardinal Martino has been in Uganda to help introduce a new book, The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, and to help convene the Young Catholic Students International Council.
Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, the Vice-President, announced that Museveni had directed him to ask Cardinal Martino, to extend the request to the Holy Father, reported the news site New Vision.
"He (Museveni) rarely smiles, but when I told him about the visitor (Martino), his face lit up and he asked me to tell the cardinal to call the Pope to Uganda."
"I think very soon we shall host another Pope," he added.
If the visit materializes, Benedict will be the third Pope to step on Ugandan soil. The last pope to visit was Pope John Paul II in February of 1993.
At the launch of the book, Cardinal Martino called on Ugandans to defend the right to life and to give respect to justice and peace, saying they were vital for promoting reconciliation throughout the country.
Bukenya bought a copy of the book and said he would give it to President Museveni.
"I have read more than one chapter of this book. It is a very vital document to be consulted by policy makers because they play a big role in decision-making for this country," the Vice-President added.
Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - The sensational adultery lawsuit against Archbishop Pius Ncube has an interesting new development. According to The Standard, papers were just filed in the High Court indicating that the charge of adultery has been dropped from the case against the archbishop.
The new charges, filed by plaintiff Onesimus Sibanda’s lawyer, request the ability to amend the original summons at the pre-trial conference or "any time before trial".
The amendment does not contain any adultery claims against Ncube, who has been a fierce critic of the government's human rights record and of President Robert Mugabe.
The archbishop’s lawyer, Advocate Nicholas Mathonsi, claims that the entire lawsuit is a state-sponsored attempt to discredit the archbishop and distract from the societal collapse resulting from the failures of President Mugabe.
In the original claim, Sibanda, a soldier attached to the National Railways of Zimbabwe, said he wanted 20 billion Zimbabwean dollars from the prelate for allegedly having an intimate relationship with his wife, Rosemary.
But in his revised charges, Sibanda does not mention damages for adultery and instead wants the figure broken down to $10 billion being loss of consortium (loss of company, affection, assistance and sexual relations) and $10 billion for contumelia (loss of comfort).
This follows an application by Ncube's lawyer to have Sibanda clarify how the alleged adultery was committed and also to justify how the claims were arrived at.
On Friday, Sibanda’s lawyer said that the amendment only sought "to correct mistakes that were made in the summons and declaration. Otherwise the claim remains the same at $20 billion".
Vatican City, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - In a personally signed telegram, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his profound sorrow at the passion of Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, Archbishop Emeritus of Paris, who he described as a man of faith and of dialogue.
The Pope sent a message to Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, the current Archbishop of Paris, in which he expressed his “profound unity in prayer with the Archdiocese of Paris, with the members of his family and with all those affected by the disappearance of this grand figure of the Church in France.”
The Holy Father entrusted “the beloved Cardinal Lustiger, who generously consecrated his life in service to the people of God in the Diocese of Orleans and in the Archdiocese of Paris, to the mercy of God.”
“I give thanks to the Lord for his episcopal ministry, as I remember this pastor who was passionate for the search for God and for the proclamation of the Gospel in the world,” the pope said in his message. “During his ministry to students, he expressed his concern for young people. In the communities entrusted to him, he contributed to developing the missionary commitment of the faithful and he was especially devoted to renewing formation for priests and the laity.”
Benedict XVI called the late cardinal a “man of faith and of dialogue” who “generously devoted himself to promoting ever-more fraternal relations between Christians and Jews.” In addition, as an “intellectual visionary, he knew how to put his gifts at the service of the faith in order to make the Gospel present in all atmospheres of life and society.”
The Pontiff concluded his telegram imparting his apostolic blessing upon the faithful of the archdiocese and those who will participate in the funeral this Friday.
London, England, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - A National Health Service (NHS) hospital trust has agreed to pay a woman £27,500 in an out-of-court settlement for aborting her unborn baby against her will and ignoring her attempts to withdraw her consent, reported The Guardian.
According to a July 30 report, Teresa Cooper, 40, was worried that an E coli infection and antibiotic treatment she had a few weeks into her pregnancy might have harmed the baby.
Unable to get answers, the mother of three reluctantly signed the consent form for an abortion at Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow, Essex, in November 2003. But in the two days between signing the form and the abortion, she watched an anti-abortion video, which reinforced her doubts.
The Guardian reported that she went to the hospital on the day the abortion was scheduled for, saying she was only having the abortion for medical reasons and questioning whether the procedure would be traumatic for the fetus. She still got no answers but was taken to the operating room upset and tearful, according to her medical notes.
In papers filed with the court, the hospital trust admitted that staff failed to counsel Cooper about her pregnancy and refer her to someone who could counsel her appropriately, and went ahead with the abortion without getting confirmation that she consented. The trust conceded that the surgeon had not seen her before the operation, despite her obvious concern.
Her lawyer, David Kerry, from Essex law firm Attwater & Liell, said Cooper wanted answers to her concerns about her health and that of her baby, but “it was as if she was on a conveyor belt, which was impossible to stop.”
“Despite her obvious distress she was not respected as an individual with the tragic result that she lost her baby totally unnecessarily," he was quoted as saying.
A trust spokesman apologized to Cooper for “shortcomings in the care” she received. “Extra training has been provided and the patient pathway for the treatment improved to ensure the same thing could not happen again,” he added.
London, England, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - One of the largest and oldest Roman Catholic adoption agencies in England, Catholic Care, will stop finding parents for children in need due to the government’s new laws on homosexual adoptions.
The Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR), which were rushed through Parliament earlier this year despite opposition from many MPs and religious leaders, require adoption agencies to accept same-sex couples as prospective parents.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor had warned of the possible closure of seven Catholic adoption agencies if the regulations were passed.
According to a report in The Daily Mail, Catholic Care, which is based in Yorkshire and run by the Diocese of Leeds, became the first to pull out of the adoption business after a vote by its trustees.
In a statement, the charity said it had reviewed its work in the light of new government legislation and decided to gradually reduce its adoption activity and refocus its energy on other vulnerable groups that receive less support.
The Daily Mail also reported that Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster wrote to Catholic Caring Services, an adoption charity in his diocese, about his thoughts on ending its adoption program as well by December 2008.
Bishop O'Donoghue said the adoption law demands the welfare of the child should come first. Pointing to research, he said: "We know that what is best for children is to live with (heterosexual) married couples."
, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Diocese of Hong Kong has issued a revised version of the Vatican's Chinese translation of Pope Benedict XVI's letter to Catholics in China.
The Vatican issued the papal letter in traditional and simplified Chinese translations on June 30. The revised text was published two weeks later in the July 15 issue of Kung Kao Po, the diocesan Chinese weekly.
In addition, 30,000 booklets of the revised text in traditional Chinese characters and another 30,000 in simplified characters were printed for free distribution. The booklets were distributed in all Hong Kong parishes.
According to Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, the Vatican’s Chinese text contains many mistakes. The revision is to "help those (Chinese) who don't know foreign languages understand the letter's original intentions," he told UCA News in mid-July.
He reportedly discussed the Vatican's Chinese translation with his auxiliary, Bishop John Tong Hon, and retired Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi of Taiwan. Both agreed the Chinese translation "is hard to understand and contains mistakes."
A mainland bishop told UCA News the Vatican's Chinese translation is acceptable for mainland Catholics who are familiar with Church terminology.
However, some government officials told him they have difficulty understanding its "unusual" sentence structure and words. "Such a translation could undermine the Catholic Church's image," added the bishop, who requested anonymity.
The cardinal decided to see what could be done and spent a week revising the translation with experts. One expert, Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher of the diocese's Holy Spirit Study Centre, told UCA News that the revised text is clearer, more coherent and conceptually more accurate.
Cardinal Zen said he hopes local Catholics will bring copies to their relatives and friends on the mainland. The diocese will also send copies to the Chinese government via the central government's Liaison Office, he said.
The 76-year-old prelate presided over three evening sessions, July 16-18, at three parishes here to explain the papal letter's content and context, and to answer questions.
According to Cardinal Zen, the letter has its origins in a document prepared by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2002.
Cardinal Zen told the July 18 session that the papal letter has great significance for mainland bishops, who are "very lonely and seldom meet with or know what bishops of other dioceses think." He added that the letter could serve as a common reference point when they deal with government officials.
"After reading it several times attentively, one realizes how precious this letter is,” the cardinal said. “Then one will be eager to have more people, especially mainland Catholics, read it."
Washington D.C., Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - More than 100 members of the House have signed onto a federal bill that would require abortion providers to give women seeking abortions information on the unborn baby and the intense pain the baby experiences in the abortion process. Under the bill, the woman would also be offered the option to reduce the unborn baby’s pain through anesthesia.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R—NJ) introduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act last week.
“Expert testimony and scientific studies have shown that unborn children have the ability to feel pain from 20 weeks of gestation,” said Smith, who is co-chairman of the Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus. “Abortion providers are aware of this information, which, I might add, is well-documented and continues to expand. There are no federal guidelines that require the provider to share this information with a woman seeking an abortion. This legislation would fill that void.”
Smith noted that a number of states have informed consent laws similar to this act, but there is no uniformity from state to state.
Smith first introduced the act in the 109th Congress and the House, under suspension of the rules, considered it in December 2006. While the bill gained a majority, it fell shy of the requisite number of votes for passage under this expedited process.
According to Smith, the partial-birth abortion ban trials leading up to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the ban have drawn new attention to the pain that unborn children feel during an abortion.
In expert testimony during those trials, Dr. Kanwljeet Anand, director of the Pain Neurobiology Lab at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, stated: “The human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Shrine of St. Cajetan in the Buenos Aires district of Liniers will celebrate the feast day of its patron on August 7, with Argentineans coming together to give thanks for favors received and to pray for their needs.
The celebrations began on July 29 with a special novena. On August 7, the faithful will be able to enter the Shine beginning at midnight, and they will be received by Auxiliary Bishop Raul Martin of Buenos Aires who, together with Father Gerardo Andres Castellano and other priests, will impart the first blessing of the day.
As part of the festivities, Masses will be celebrated throughout the day, with Cardinal Jorge Mario of Buenos Aires presiding at the 11am Mass.
The staff at the Shrine has asked the faithful to bring clothes and medicine instead of the traditional flowers and candles, as a show of solidarity for the needy.
St. Cajetan was born in 1480. He studied law and was named by Pope Julius II to an important post at the Chancery of the Pontifical States where, together with a group of diplomats, he was able to prevent a war between the Republic of Venice and the Vatican State. On September 30, 1516, at the age of 36, he was ordained a priest. He founded the Clerics Regular. He died on August 7, 1547, and was declared a saint on April 12, 1671.
Santiago, Chile, Aug 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Diocese of Iquique (Chile) will hold a Social Week August 11-18 in order to train “volunteers in each one of the organizations that are part of our social ministry.” The diocesan director of social ministry, Marcos Rojas, said, “Whoever feels the love of the Lord who saves us spring up in his heart, cannot remain unconcerned without responding.”
Among the activities planned for the Social Week include a workshop on the social teaching of the Church, aimed at business leaders in order to encourage them to “participate in the different activities of our Church,” Rojas said.
A special Mass will also be celebrated on August 15, the feast of the Assumption, with Bishop Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of Iquique presiding.
Staff members of the diocesan social ministry office will participate in a workshop on how to make use of government resources. On August 18 a Mass for the Day of National Solidarity, dedicated to St. Alberto Hurtado, will be celebrated.