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Archive of August 15, 2007

Dutch bishop says Christians should call God ‘Allah’

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Martinus Muskens of Breda, Netherlands, suggested in an interview with Radio Netherlands that Christians should refer to God as Allah, which would promote better relations with Muslims. 

The 71-year-old bishop told the program that he believes God doesn’t mind what he is called. He believes people are needlessly divided over the different names used to refer to God.

The bishop, who had worked in Indonesia, noted that even Christians use the term Allah for God there. The Dutch should learn to get on spontaneously with different cultures, religions and behavior patterns:

"Someone like me has prayed to Allah yang maha kuasa (Almighty God) for eight years in Indonesia and other priests for 20 or 30 years. In the heart of the Eucharist, God is called Allah over there, so why can't we start doing that together?" he was quoted as saying.

Bishop Muskens admitted that he did not think his suggestion would be welcomed readily and that it would take about 100 years before Catholics would feel comfortable calling God “Allah”.

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"The protection of Mary accompanies us throughout our lives"--Pope Benedict XVI

, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - “The protection of Mary accompanies you throughout your life”, the Pope reminded the faithful today, before reciting the Angelus prayer on the Feast of the Assumption. The Holy Father also expressed his hope that her example may “inspire and sustain” those who follow Christ and so share in the glory of the Resurrection.

Addressing the crowd outside the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope explained that because Our Lady is now assumed into heaven, she “is not far from us, but rather remains ever closer to us, and her light is projected on our life and on the entire history of humanity.”

“Attracted by the celestial brilliance of the Mother of the Redeemer,” he said, “we resort with trust to the one on high, who watches us and protects us”. 

The Feast of the Assumption, the Pope said, “reminds us that the Blessed Virgin Mary is one with her divine son and always in agreement with him”.  Mother and Son, he added, are “closely associated in the struggle against the infernal enemy until there is complete victory over him”.  That victory, he said, is over sin and death.

For this reason, the Pope went on, “just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was the definitive mark of this victory, so the glorification of Mary in her virginal body constitutes the final confirmation of how much she is in full solidarity with her Son in the struggle for that victory”.

The Pope then referred to Pope Pius XII’s solemn declaration of the Assumption as a formal dogma of the Church, on All Saints Day, 1950.  Quoting Pope Pius’ apostolic constitution to underline the depth of theology of the dogma, he said: “The revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages”.  (Apostolic Constitution of Munificentissimus Deus, 1950)

Concluding his address, the Pope reminded the faithful that “we all need her help and comfort to confront the trials and challenges of each day”, and to be able to share one day in her same destiny, imitating, in docility, her generous service to mankind. 

It is only in this manner, the Pope said, that we can “already look forward to, here on our earthly pilgrimage, the peace and joy that exists in fullness for those who arrive at the immortal destination of Paradise”. 

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Journalist “hired” to attack the Church in Mexico challenged to back up claims

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - The Cardinal of Mexico City, Norberto Rivera, has been asked to provide information about a sexual abuse case in Los Angeles. The court deposition has become the occasion for his critics to accuse the cardinal of drumming up non-existent support.

The director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Hugo Valdemar Romero, has forcefully challenged a journalist from the Masonic influenced, anti-Catholic newspaper, La Jornada, to back up his claims that question the legitimacy of the support for Cardinal Norberto Rivera by lay organizations.

Columnist Leon Zaragoza, accused of being paid by La Jornada to write articles critical of Cardinal Rivera, recently wrote that the massive support for the cardinal, who has been questioned in connection with a sex abuse lawsuit, was orchestrated by the Church.

Father Romero challenged Leon to prove his claim and he lamented “the calumnious story by Gabriel Leon, who unashamedly launches continual attacks against the Catholic Church, apparently as instructed by the editorial policy of La Jornada.”

“All over the Cathedral it’s known that Sunday after Sunday, Mr. Gabriel Leon comes to cover what’s newsworthy during the cardinal’s Mass after the homily, that is, when there are only five or ten minutes left in the ceremony.  Nevertheless, despite the fact that he does not personally witness what happens in the church, he has the nerve to invent or improvise his stories with the first thing that occurs to him, always with a view towards hurting the Church,” the priest explained.

Father Valdemar also criticized Leon for demanding “exclusive interviews and statements every Sunday, with no respect for his fellow journalists, who have the same right as La Jornada to information, without favoring or slighting any particular media outlet.”

He went on to say that if Leon “bothered to analyze the photos in his archives he would realize that the large number of faithful that publicly expressed their support for the cardinal this past Sunday attend Mass there frequently, and thus another calumny could be discarded: that they were bussed in to the Cathedral.”

“We profoundly lament the lack of objectivity in Mr. Gabriel Leon’s columns, in which the reader can detect more hatred for the Church than a desire to report the truth,” Father Valdemar stated.

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Archbishop denounces “Catholics” who fight against Church teaching

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - During a recent radio program, Archbishop Domingo Salvador Castagna of Corrientes (Argentina) denounced those who claim to be Catholic yet fight against the Church’s authentic teachings.

The Argentinean prelate referred to what he called “an enraged battle against the ecclesial principles of Catholic doctrine” that “has received an inexplicable amount of publicity.”  He pointed out that many who claim to be “Catholic, Apostolic and Roman” use the “fallacious excuse that the traditional teachings of the Church are the disputable opinions of her pastors, and therefore they oppose them and declare themselves to be exempt from having to follow them.”

“Nothing could be more deceitful, with tragic consequences for the honesty of persons and communities,” the archbishop said.  “It’s always the right time, and now it’s more urgent than ever, to definitively eliminate scheming and lying from our lives,” he continued.  “Jesus insists on transparency and truth,” the archbishop told his radio audience. 

He went to say that the proclamation of the Word of God is urgent in today’s world, in order to “overcome evil with good and get new and numerous converts to live in a Christian way.”  To live as Christians means exercising the Christian virtues, he said, and gaining knowledge of Church teaching and how to courageously apply it in “the most adverse circumstances.”

The archbishop noted that the “scandals created by Christian believers, especially by those in consecrated life, reveal the absence of the Spirit of Pentecost.  To not submit to the Holy Spirit is to reject Christ who gives it.” 

Therefore, he said, “it is timely that we examine and determine to what point Christ is rejected by many so-called Christians.”

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Diocese of Palencia will open Family Counseling Center in September

Madrid, Spain, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of Palencia (Spain) announced this week the diocese would open its Family Counseling Center next month.

Bishop Munilla told reporters two different locations are being prepared to house the Center, which will offer marriage preparation, counseling in child rearing, assistance for conflict resolution, marriage counseling, support for those recovering from broken marriages, among other services.

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Man in Iran lashed for being Christian

Tehran, Iran, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - Iranian authorities lashed a man 34 times after a copy of the Gospel was found in his car, according to an AKI report, filed Aug. 14.

The man, identified as “A. Sh.” on an Iranian website representing Christian converts, was found to be a Muslim convert to Christianity. He was arrested after police searched his car, which had been involved in an accident, and found the book printed in Farsi.

He was detained at police station Number 102 in Tehran for two days where he was lashed and suffered "other humiliations", the site said.

Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are the only religions allowed in Iran. However, converting from Islam to any of them is prohibited.

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Father Bossi says work of evangelization will go on in Philippines despite risks

Rome, Italy, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - Father Giancarlo Bossi of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missionaries (PIFM), who was released last July 19 after being held captive for 39 days by Muslim extremists, said this week, “We will not leave our places of work despite the risks we may encounter” in Mindanao, Philippines.

“Last week all of us from the PIFM who work in the Philippines met with our superior general, and we have reaffirmed that our presence in Mindanao will continue,” the Italian priest explained.  He said his greatest joy since being released has been to “return to my parish and greet my parishioners.”

“I should return soon, because in Payao there are a great number of Christians, but in the center 50% are Muslim and 50% are Christian—in order to avoid, let’s call it, an encounter between civilizations or a war of religions,” the Italian priest said.

He called his kidnappers “serious criminals,” but he added, “That does not mean that all Muslims are.  Just like when a Christian steals, not all Christians are thieves.  I hope the people of Payao understand that.”

Father Bossi said he never thought he would be killed while in captivity, but that his kidnapping was motivated by money.  “We are all in danger.  We know it is this way and yet we continue forward in peace,” he stated, adding that he desires to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.  “Knowing that he has always prayed for me, that he has always remembered me before the Lord, I think I need to thank him for it,” he said.

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U.S. Lutheran vote to refrain from disciplining gay clergy

Chicago, Ill., Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - The nation's largest Lutheran denomination passed a measure on Saturday calling on church leaders to "refrain from or demonstrate restraint" in disciplining gay clergy in committed relationships, reported the Chicago Sun Times.

The vote, which passed 538-431, is being viewed as an historic shift on homosexuality within the 4.8-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The measure was spearheaded by Bishop Paul Landahl of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, who already welcomes gay clergy in committed relationships. However, other bishops across the country have been removed from clergy rosters.

Presiding ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson said the vote does not change the denomination's official policies but simply allows bishops greater discretion.

The Rev. Mark Chavez, leader of Lutheran CORE, a group that opposes non-celibate gays serving as pastors, called the vote "tragic."

"This decision will be an excuse for bishops to disobey ELCA policy," he was quoted as saying. "This decision does not reflect the will of the people, but of bishops and clergy who disregard God's word."

A day earlier, members of the congregation voted down the measure to end the church's celibacy requirement for gay clergy. Voters also called on a task force to prepare a social statement on human sexuality to offer recommendations on current church policies concerning non-celibate gay clergy.

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PRI uses videos to expose use of US taxpayer dollars to fund abortion overseas

Front Royal, Va., Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - A pro-life organization has launched an initiative to put an end to U.S. taxpayer support for abortions abroad.

The Population Research Institute (PRI) notes that U.S. law forbids American organizations, funded by taxpayer dollars, to support abortion overseas. There are two U.S. laws on the books that regulate this activity called the Tiahrt and Kemp-Kasten amendments.

Yet, some U.S.-based groups continue to lobby for legal abortion in developing countries, specifically in Latin America. In some cases, the pro-abortion lobby is even trying to coerce women into having abortions. According to PRI, these groups offer women incentives to have abortions in order to attain the results they want.

PRI’s Latin American Initiative was designed to put a stop to this activity by teaching human rights leaders in those countries about what U.S. groups can and cannot do abroad. The objective is to make this illegal activity known and to cut taxpayer funding to these pro-abortion groups for overseas activities.

PRI produced two videos about their mission which they have posted on YouTube.com. The videos focus on the way that abortion is coercively used to change the cultures in the countries where organizations such as Planned Parenthood are trying to expand. Each video runs about five minutes.

The Population Research Institute (PRI) was founded in 1989 by Fr. Paul Marx, OSB, PhD and is dedicated to:
• ending human rights abuses committed in the name of "family planning"
• opposing outdated social and economic paradigms premised on the myth of overpopulation
• informing the public about the social and economic benefits of moderate population growth
• promoting pro-natal and pro-family attitudes and policies worldwide.

View the videos at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ykQVxWQpZzA and
http://youtube.com/watch?v=7g8GhnMDo7E

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Archbishop announces schedule of Pope’s trip to Loreto

Rome, Italy, Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Gianni Danzi of Loreto has announced details of the Pope’s schedule for his visit to Loreto on September 1 and 2, where he will meet with young people and will visit the Marian shrine there.

The Pope is scheduled to arrive at 4:30 p.m. local time, and he will travel to Montorso to meet with young people gathered for the Agora National Encounter.  Afterwards, the Pope will go to the pontifical palace and visit the Basilica “for a moment of true silence.”

On September 2 the Pope will celebrate Mass with the young people at Montorso and later he will have lunch at the apostolic palace with leaders of the Italian Bishops’ Conference and other religious leaders.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Msgr. Paolo Giulietti, general secretary of the committee charged with organizing the Agora encounter, explained that the purpose of the event is to attract many young people.  “This encounter at Loreto is an event that is part of a three-year journey the Italian bishops have proposed to our Christian communities in order to reach out to the youth.  This journey has as its central theme the mission, and I can say that Sydney 2008 is a central stage in this journey because in Sydney the theme will again focus on the missionary vocation of every Christian, who receives the strength of the Holy Spirit in order to bear witness to Jesus,” he said.

Msgr. Giulietti said that for this reason, “this entire three-year journey has been marked by this theme and therefore it is preparing us for the World Youth Day at Sydney (…) noting another connection between the two events, he also said that “a large Australian delegation will be present at Loreto.”

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Catholic media group to launch ambitious website

Denver, Colo., Aug 15, 2007 (CNA) - On September 1, the digital world will see the launch of a new Catholic media initiative called Insidecatholic.com. The new website is the latest effort of the Morley Publishing Group (MPG), perhaps best known for its magazine Crisis, to remain on the cutting edge of media communication.

The media group sees their soon-to-be-unveiled website as helping their audience of “engaged active Catholics” to evangelize the culture, defend the Church, and live as authentic Christian witnesses in our secular culture. The goal of MPG’s newest venture is to become a more influential Catholic voice in the arenas of politics and social issues.

InsideCatholic.com plans to produce material that utilizes all of the tools of the internet. Each day, “written and filmed content will be published, including original articles and columns, the Inside Blog, Inside Videos, Special Reports, and weekly e-mail blasts. In addition, the website will host a digital version of Crisis Magazine, the Morley Institute, an archive and a store.”

The major attraction of the site will be its “Inside Blog,” which MPG hopes will serve as a major draw for visitors. According to a press release from MPG, “[their] Blog will be an online diary where ten faithful Catholics from different political and social perspectives debate and discuss the issues of the day. Since many of the bloggers are insiders in the Church or politics, the blog will serve as the forum where they break our exclusive stories.”

The website will also offer a professionally produced video on a weekly basis, “Inside Alert” emails, major projects, which will consist of several articles centered around a particular theme, and Deal Hudson’s weekly email called, “The Window.”

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