Nashville, Tenn., Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus has decided to prohibit pro-choice advocates, including pro-choice politicians, from attending their events or receiving Knights awards. The ban includes persons supporting abortion, euthanasia or assisted suicide.
The members of the Catholic fraternal society voted to pass this resolution Aug. 9, during its 125th annual convention. The resolution reads: "We reaffirm our long-standing policy of not inviting to any Knights of Columbus event, persons, especially public officials or candidates for public office, who do not support the legal protection of unborn children, or who advocate for the legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia."
They also resolved to prohibit these persons from renting Knights facilities, speaking at Knights events or holding any office in the Knights of Columbus.
This measure could be a response to the outrage of the Concerned Roman Catholics of America who spoke out in Boston when 16 Knights voted against a bill to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The Knights resolved to offer pro-life education within society and to support programs that provide women facing crisis pregnancies with alternatives to abortion, including adoption, and to support projects that provide spiritual support to those women suffering the after-effects of abortion.
They also resolved to oppose any governmental action or policy that promotes abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, euthanasia, assisted-suicide, and other acts against life.
The Order renewed its support for the traditional definition of marriage and called for the protection of conscience for medical professionals and Catholic hospitals.
They reaffirmed their commitment to building a culture of life by promoting policies that favor the family. They called for decency in the media and for honoring the nation’s armed troops.
They concluded with a resolution to pray the rosary and to do penance in reparation for the sins against life.
Rome, Italy, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - According to the Italian daily Il Messaggero, Pope Benedict XVI may convene a consistory in November to create 17 new cardinals.
The story in the Italian newspaper states the Pope could announce the second consistory of his pontificate after the Wednesday Audience on October 24. It says the Pontiff intends to create 17 new cardinals under the age of 80—which would bring the total number of cardinal-electors back up to 120. After the death of the retired Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, the College of Cardinals is left with 182 members, of which 105 are under the age of 80. In October, the former Vatican Secretary of State and current Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and American Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, will both turn 80.
According to the story in Il Messaggero, the possible candidates to receive the red hat include Archbishop Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo (Brazil), Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw and Archbishop Angelo Baganasco of Genoa.
By tradition red hats should go to Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, current Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, governor of the Vatican City State, and Archbishop Raffaele Farina, head of the Vatican Library. A red hat should also by tradition go to American Archbishop John Foley, current Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
According to Il Messaggero, the list of potential cardinals would also include Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
Vatican City, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican announced this morning that Pope Benedict XVI has chosen Bishop Robert J. Baker, currently the bishop of Charleston, South Carolina to head the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.
The Diocese of Birmingham will introduce Bishop Baker as its new bishop-elect this morning in a press conference at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul's Cathedral Life Center.
The diocese has been without a bishop since 2005 when Bishop David Foley retired but remained on as the diocesan administrator until now. One institution that makes the diocese stand out is EWTN, the global Catholic satellite network founded by Mother Angelica.
Bishop Baker, a native of Ohio, is aware of the potential impact of EWTN and has co-authored the book, "When Did We See You, Lord?" with EWTN personality the Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel.
The newly appointed bishop wrote in a letter to the faithful of South Carolina that he is grateful for his time there and that it is hard for him to leave. “How blessed I have been these past eight years as your bishop, working closely together with all of you to build up the kingdom of Christ here in South Carolina. [I]t is not easy for me to say good-bye, especially to people who have helped me learn to be a bishop, first-hand.”
Bishop Baker will remain administrator of the Diocese of Charleston until he is installed as Bishop of Birmingham in the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham at 3 p.m. Tuesday, October 2, 2007.
Bishop Baker's full statement can be found on the Diocese of Charleston’s Web site at www.catholic-doc.org .
Denver, Colo., Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - A World Away
The Quest of Dan Clay: Book One
By T.J. Smith
It’s been quite some time since an original adventure series was penned and even longer since a Catholic one was written. In A World Away, T.J. Smith successfully ties together fantasy, adventure, and the faith of a boy who wants nothing more than to bring his family back together again.
In this fictional novel, Smith describes the fate of fifty men who, nine hundred years ago, committed such atrocious acts that hell was not a suitable punishment for them. The men were transformed into half-man, half-serpent creatures and were banished from our world into a parallel universe called the Eldritch Forest.
Dan Clay, the main character of the story, is not your typical storybook hero. He is often picked on by the town bullies and is quite unpopular. However, he has several admirable qualities including his strong faith as well as his love for his parents, his brother, his friends, and God.
Thirteen years ago, Dan’s older brother William disappeared into a nearby forest, never to be seen again. At the beginning of the story, Dan obtains information that leads him to believe that his older brother has not died, but rather, he has somehow passed through the same portal as the half-man, half-serpent creatures and is being held captive by them.
Dan’s quest to rescue his brother is fraught with peril and bravery. Our hero and three of his friends brave the dangers of “the place worse than hell,” to free his brother as the ferocious man-beasts try to hunt them down. The reader learns the importance of the virtues of perseverance, courage, and faith as the story develops.
Throughout the book, Dan’s strong faith in God strongly influences each of his friends to grow in virtue and to begin pray. This is especially true of Sam, a fallen-away Catholic who has vowed never to pray again.
Readers are left on edge as the author leaves the end open for a second and possibly third book as the three friends continue to search for William Clay.
A World Away is a captivating story that creatively displays the importance of faith, being a strong role-model, and heroism.
The book is being released today, August 14th and can be purchased through Tate Publishing at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore or by calling (888) 361-9473
San Diego, Calif., Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - A San Diego physician says medical professionals who refuse to provide particular treatments or procedures for reasons of religion or conscience should brace themselves for major challenges ahead.
Dr. George Delgado, medical director at Culture of Life Family Services, a non-profit medical clinic that operates from a Catholic perspective, told the California Catholic Daily that operating from one’s religious perspective will become increasingly difficult for physicians.
Delgado was commenting on the case against Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, who are being sued by a former patient who is angry that Brody would not artificially inseminate her because she is a lesbian.
Brody and Fenton are OB-Gyns at North Coast Women’s Care in Vista, California. Their case has yet to go before the state Supreme Court. In 2003, however, the Fourth District State Appeals Court ruled against the physicians.
Most doctors would have no problem doing what Brody and Fenton refused to do, said Delgado. “A lot of doctors feel that they are at the beck-and-call of the patient and operate in an amoral vacuum,” he said.
But there are physicians who have strong personal ethical frameworks, said Delgado, and these physicians are starting to run into some challenges.
“I’ve had some difficulties already and it is only going to get worse as technology advances without much in the way of moral guidelines or ethical signposts,” he told the California Catholic Daily. “Other healthcare providers, particularly pharmacists, are having the hardest time of it right now. It’s going to become a bigger and bigger problem.”
Delgado believes the Brody/Fenton case could have serious repercussions.
“This is clearly a case where a physician has responded to a request that many people would find unreasonable and unethical. These are physicians with well-formed religious, ethical and moral beliefs that may not be followed by most Americans, but most Americans would find them reasonable,” he said.
Delgado has not performed an abortion during his 16 years as a physician, but admits to once prescribing contraceptives. He resolved to stop prescribing them after reading the Church document Humanae Vitae.
Manila, Philippines, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - The people of the Archdiocese of Manila were pleased to hear that their 75-year-old archbishop, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, will stay on as their spiritual leader, reports UCAN.
The cardinal submitted his resignation to the Pope, two months before his 75th birthday. But Pope Benedict replied, asking that he continue as archbishop of Manila beyond his 75th birthday, which he celebrated Aug. 10.
Canon law stipulates that bishops must submit their resignation from diocesan office on the occasion of their 75th birthday. However, the Pope can decide to prolong the bishop’s mandate at his discretion.
"I'm happy that despite my old age, God has given me the strength to continue serving the Church," the cardinal told Radyo Veritas Aug. 9. News of the Pope’s decision was shared during a mass Aug. 8 at the chancery.
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, told reporters Aug. 9 that the conference is delighted with the Pope’s decision.
The following day, Manila clergy and laypeople told Radyo Veritas that they were pleased their archbishop would remain in office. They cited his concern for the poor and his personal and personable approach with people.
The Archdiocese of Manila has more than two million Catholics, served by 619 priests, 61 religious brothers and 916 religious sisters.
Atlanta, Ga., Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - There may be a decline of priests and church attendance across the nation, but the Archdiocese of Atlanta is bucking both trends, with packed churches and more than 50 seminarians in training.
The number of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta has more than doubled in the last 10 years, growing from 256,000 to an estimated 600,000. St. Thomas the Apostle church in Smyrna, for example, holds nine masses each weekend, five in English and four in Spanish.
The archdiocese’s 95 churches and missions are currently served by 262 priests. This clergy-to-church ratio of nearly three to one is significant given that some U.S. churches have no pastors.
Fr. Luke Ballman, the archdiocese’s director of vocations, attributes the high number of clergy and seminarians to a strong vocations program.
"We have one of the strongest vocational programs in the country," he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He added that the influx of Catholics to the region has also helped bring many young men who are interested in becoming priests.
The archdiocese also has the support of the Serra Club, which helps support priestly vocations through scholarships and prayer. About 600 Serrans were in Atlanta over the weekend for a national conference.
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - The official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, El Seminario, published an editorial this week calling for respect for those who question the effectiveness of condoms in the prevention of teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, amidst a recent debate on the issue in the region.
The governor of the State of Jalisco, Emilio Gonzalez Marquez, has received an avalanche of criticism for suggesting that abstinence and fidelity be part of AIDS prevention and for saying that the State should not distribute condoms to young people.
“I think we still need to provide this support to the homosexual community, but regarding young people in general, I think it’s not the State’s role to distribute condoms,” Gonzalez said, announcing as well that during his administration condoms would not be distributed at the Jalisco Condom Fair, organized by the State Council for the Prevention of AIDS.
The editorial emphasized that “in a true democracy, the right of all citizens to express their opinions must be guaranteed.” “Although we are all not in agreement, tolerance allows us to listen and to dissent in a civilized manner, expressing our opinions and above all our reasoning,” the editors stated.
The article pointed out that those who favor the use of condoms have no tolerance for those who do not agree with them. “This is an anti-democratic measure, because they don’t allow a different opinion to be expressed by anyone, whether by the governor or the governed.”
“Even without mentioning the poor effectiveness they have had as a remedy for teen pregnancy and the transmission of diseases, and without mentioning the half-truths that are said about condoms, it would be enough to point out that we all have the right and duty to make our positions and judgments known, always in a responsible fashion,” the article stated.
We have not used religious arguments. We have based our position, we trust, on reason, with the intention of participating in the democratic process we believe to be a part of our nation,” the editors said in conclusion.
Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - The first cloistered Benedictine monastery has been inaugurated in Indonesia, in the western city of Kupang. The monastery is the result of ten years of work by Indonesians and some Italian young people from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie di Orte, in Viterbo, Italy.
Father Mauro Pace, pastor of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Orte, Italy, who also participated in the project, explained that in Orte, “We have had a Benedictine monastery for 300 years. A nun from this monastery visited Indonesia and saw there was great interest there.”
“There were many young girls who wanted to experience religious life,” he went on. “Therefore, this collaboration began between the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie di Orte and Indonesia.”
“In the last twelve or thirteen years,” the Italian priest said, “some thirty girls have come and the Bishop of Kupang suggested the idea of having a Benedictine presence in Indonesia, where this type of spirituality does not exist.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - In the wake of a growing murder rate in the cities of Argentina, Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata warned this week of an increased link between murders and drug use, saying in order to combat this drug trafficking must be addressed.
Generally, young people involved in drugs tend to fall into criminal activity, the archbishop said. Drugs cause such alienation in them that they “are capable of having scorn for life to such a degree that they will kill for nothing.”
Archbishop Aguer lamented the lack of a clear government policy for addressing the distribution and consumption of drugs, but he praised the work of social and religious institutions that reach out “to the victims of this plague.” He noted, however, that recovery from drug addiction is costly and in comparison with the number of people affected, not very common.
The archbishop also lamented that the issue is neglected. “We all know that it is a very serious problem, and nevertheless, it does not seem that the measures adopted to suppress the trafficking are effective.” He recalled the words of Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, to the UN General Assembly: “The international commercial and financial drug ring must be combated,” he said. “An effective stop must be made to the expansion of the market of narcotic substances.”
Archbishop Aguer went on to say the problem of drug trafficking involves individuals in high positions of power. “We must realize the problem is very serious. We must create awareness and not be afraid to speak,” he said, encouraging Argentineans to force authorities to address the problem with effective policies.
Havana, Cuba, Aug 14, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba, Oswaldo Paya, has sent an open letter to the public denouncing the growing risk of death that prisoners of conscience are facing in Cuban prisons.
In his letter, Paya noted that the increased risk is due to the fact that “Cuban political prisoners are confined together with common prisoners who on occasion threaten and harass them, with the encouragement of the authorities themselves.”
Violence and bloodshed are frequent among common prisoners and from abusive prison guards, Paya said, noting that in all the prisons of Cuba, “political prisoners have a high possibility of being assaulted and suffer great anxiety and stress, due to confinement in cruel, degrading conditions that are life-threatening.”
“To confine political prisoners with common ones,” the letter explained, “has not been very common in Cuba’s history, even during the dictatorship prior to this one, but now it has become a perverse practice on the part of authorities who are enraged with these people only because they dared to defend and promote the rights of Cubans,” Paya noted.
“The alternative to confinement with common prisoners has been isolation in solitary confinement or in conditions appropriate not even for animals,” he said.
Nevertheless, the threats worsened this month as two political prisoners were threatened with execution by firing squad by various state security officials. According to Paya, “these direct and express threats by a group of State security agents and prison officials need no adjectives or explanations, as they are simply being told they would be killed.”
“All Cubans should be made aware of the degrading conditions and risk of death suffered by those who are in prison solely for defending the human rights of all Cubans,” Paya continued. He added that all prisoners, both political and common, are in reality victims of the inhuman and degrading conditions.
“The voices inside and outside Cuba are few and are often drowned out by those who shout louder with lies,” or they are silenced by those who want to protect their jobs instead of “assuming the consequences of confronting injustice,” his letter stated in conclusion.