Bridgeport, Conn., Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - Last Saturday, the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut held a highly successful youth rally for over 500 high school students to celebrate and grow closer to Christ through prayer with teens from over 25 parishes.
The event was organized by the Diocese of Bridgeport who ensured that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed throughout the day and that the teens were given the opportunity to go to confession, attend talks and speak with the many priests and seminarians who attended the rally. The event concluded with a Mass celebrated by Bishop William E. Lori and concelebrated by 10 priests.
A prayer campaign was also launched during the retreat and the youth responded so generously that the goal of offering 1500 visits to the Blessed Sacrament for Pope Benedict XVI and his intentions was easily surpassed.
One high school senior raved, "The Fan the Fire Youth Rally was a great opportunity for me to not only explore my faith, but do it with so many others. It was clearly evident that the speakers truly believed what they were telling us, making their speeches, advice, and insight that much more meaningful. The entire day was a learning experience, which for me, included a nonjudgmental examination of conscience while listening and reflecting. What I experienced at the Fan the Fire Youth Rally has boosted my faith and has made me a prouder and stronger person and believer in the Catholic Faith."
Rome, Italy, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican daily, Osservatore Romano, has published a scathing editorial, condemning a double abortion performed in a Milan hospital.
The incident happened at the San Paolo Hospital earlier this summer but only emerged over the weekend in newspapers. A woman, carrying twins, decided to have one of her babies aborted after learning that it would have Down’s syndrome.
Doctors mistakenly aborted the healthy baby instead. After the mistake was discovered, the 38-year-old woman returned to the hospital and aborted the surviving fetus. She later went to police to report the doctors.
Doctors at the hospital said the two babies appeared to have changed positions in the mother's womb after the medical scan. Milan’s prosecutor's office has opened a file on the case, although no crime is suspected at present.
"It is the culture of perfection which forces people to exclude anything which does not appear beautiful, splendid and positive," read the Osservatore Romano editorial. "Nobody has the right to suppress another life. Nobody has the right to take the place of God. And yet the innocent continue to die".
One Catholic senator said the mistake was made possible by laws which allow the "selection" of embryos.
"I think that, after 30 years, it's time to look again at the abortion law," said Sen. Paola Binetti, a member of the national bioethics committee.
Meanwhile, pro-abortion MPs expressed horror over the "tragedy" but defended the 1978 law, which allows abortions up to 90 days from conception and afterwards if the fetus is malformed.
Health Minister Livia Turco described the double abortion as a case of "very serious human error" but defended the existing laws were "very wise". She noted the reduced number of abortions in Italy over the last 25 years.
London, England, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has resigned from Amnesty International in protest of the organization’s policy promoting abortion.
Cardinal O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, is the second UK bishop to leave the group because of its decision to support the decriminalization of abortion in developing countries.
Just over a week ago, Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, a member of Amnesty International for 31 years, became the first bishop to withdraw his support.
The cardinal said today that he was resigning as “a matter of conscience and with great sadness”. O’Brien joined Amnesty as a student more than 40 years ago, and explained that throughout his ministry he has been committed to defending life in all circumstances.
Cardinal O’Brien noted that he and all of the bishops of Scotland stressed in the run-up to the recent elections, that Catholics should be committed to life at all stages. “It was not something narrow [protecting the unborn] but something wide and all encompassing. And we said then that: “We believe in a consistent ethic of life. We are pro-life in the fullest sense of that term”.
“In recent years I have spoken out strongly on pro-life issues, including our necessity to ensure life for the poorest of the poor people of the world and have shown my care and concern by visiting some of those poorest countries, especially in Africa and Asia and including also my visit to Darfur.”
The recent decision by Amnesty International caused O’Brien to examine his conscience and to look at the teaching of the Church.
He cited statements made by other Catholic leaders such as Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, who said Amnesty had “betrayed its mission” by abandoning its traditional neutral policy on abortion.
He also pointed to the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s statement to Vatican Radio in which he said, “Men and women of the Church throughout the world have already made their stark opposition to this decision clear, violence cannot be answered by further violence, murder with murder, for even if the child is unborn it is still a human person. It has a right to dignity as a human being”.
The prelate also lamented the fact that, “[t]hat basic and most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life, is recognized by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the document upon which Amnesty International was founded.”
“Sadly now Amnesty International seems to be placing itself at the forefront of a campaign for a universal ‘right’ to abortion in contravention to that basic right to human life.”
He concluded his letter of resignation by saying: “We are all members of the one human family and we must defend unborn children in our family however conceived. They may be seen as unwanted or inconvenient but they have, from moment of conception, been given the gift of life by Almighty God.”
Ann Arbor, Mich., Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - The New York City Department of Education approved a proposal to open a publicly funded Muslim school. The decision, however, is not going by unchallenged.
The Thomas More Law Center announced yesterday that it will represent a group of citizens opposed to the Sept. 4 opening of Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA).
The Law Center will act as co-counsel with attorney David Yerushalmi, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request on July 23, asking for more details about KGIA. Yerushalmi’s requests have gone unanswered to date.
The Law Center claims the school is nothing more than a thinly disguised incubator for Islamist radicalization. Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Law Center, said an NYPD Intelligence Report warned Americans of the same thing about two weeks ago.
The school will immerse its students in Islamic culture and has three fundamentalist Islamist imams on its Board of Advisors, as well as other promoters with connections to militant Islamic organizations, the Law Center pointed out.
“Rather than use the public school system to assimilate Muslims and other immigrants into American culture, New York City is doing everything it can to keep them isolated – a target rich environment for recruiting potential new homegrown terrorists and a recipe for a future 911 disaster, according to my read of the NYPD Report,” cautioned Thompson.
The Law Center also noted that New York City School Chancellor, Joel Klein, who is aggressively promoting this Islamic school, also refused to allow two Christian students to display a Nativity Christmas. This is “another example of how political correctness is leading to a malicious double standard when it comes to religious expression in public schools,” said Thompson.
The Law Center argues that several factors, including an executive summary of the KGIA proposal, point to the school as anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish.
Some of the school’s promoters have ties to questionable Islamic organizations, including the Council of American Islamic Relations. The group’s founder and chairman publicly stated in 1998: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant. The Quaran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”
Imam Talib Abdul-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood is on the school’s advisory board. The Muslim Brotherhood website contains the ominous slogan: "The Qu’ran is our constitution/Jihad is our way/And death in the way of Allah is our promised end."
Klein has attempted to assuage citizen fears that KGIA is a madrassa [Islamic religious school] by promising to monitor the school for any religious violations. However, once the school is operational, any attempt to monitor for religious expressions, may be challenged as a constitutional violation as such monitoring for religious material is arguably an excessive entanglement with religion.
London, England, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - British officials are expected to announce their decision next week on whether to give researchers permission to create hybrid embryos, by taking eggs taken from dead cows and injecting them with DNA from human cells, reported The Guardian.
Scientists submitted their most recent request to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to approve the technique, which they say will help advance research into medical treatments. But religious and ethics groups are calling on government to reject it.
The UK’s Catholic bishops told the parliamentary committee, which is reviewing a draft bill that would allow partial hybrids for research purposes, that they oppose the creation of any embryo solely for research. The draft legislation under consideration is the Human Tissue and Embryo Bill.
The bishops said they did not believe the hybrid embryos should be destroyed once they are brought into existence.
“At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and be treated accordingly,” they said.
Dr. Stephen Minger, senior lecturer in stem cell biology at King's College London, told The Guardian it makes more sense to use a hybrid than taking a human embryo because scientists could use eggs taken from ovaries of thousands of cows that are slaughtered every day. Minger has applied to do research with hybrid embryos.
Rome, Italy, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - The new Vatican-backed airline was launched yesterday. The airline is aiming to be pilgrims’ carrier-of-choice for trips to Catholic shrines and the Holy Land.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini was on the inaugural flight from Rome to Lourdes on Monday, along with other Church officials and dignitaries. The flight featured Vatican logos on headrests and airhostess uniforms, and the airline’s slogan: "I'm Searching for Your Face, Lord."
"We want to create the conditions to enable pilgrims to live their pilgrimage starting at their city's airport and even before they arrive at their destinations," Fr. Caesar Atuire, CEO for the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, told a press conference.
Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi is a group that organizes pilgrimages for the Diocese of Rome.
The five-year agreement between Mistral Air, a small airline owned by the Italian post office, and Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi will include flights leaving from seven Italian airports.
The airline will aim to keep fares low though details on schedules and fares are still being discussed. Destinations will include Fatima, Lourdes, Santiago de Compostela, the Holy Land, Czestochowa, and Sinai, Egypt.
It expects serve about 150,000 passengers a year on its chartered Boeing 737.
Vatican City, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - In a letter to the participants of the 58th Liturgical Week in Italy, which is being held in the city of Spoleto, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, explained that active participation in the liturgy prepares Christians to immerse themselves in the reality of the world.
In letter dated August 11, Cardinal Bertone emphasized that the theme of the Liturgical Week, “Celebrating in the City of Man,” “aims to show that in order to live as Christians we must harmonize personal fidelity to Christ with ‘citizenship,’ that is, with the commitment to be present in the world as his witnesses.”
“Conscious of the invitation of Christ to be ‘salt’ and ‘leaven’ of the earth,” the cardinal continued, Christians “are committed, motivated by the Holy Spirit, to animate, with the richness of evangelical love, the culture and traditions of their times.” The event’s theme “helps to understand better how to carry out this mission in today’s society with evangelical fidelity celebrated in the liturgy and lived out in daily life.”
The Vatican Secretary of State went on to note that the liturgy is the place where believers can re-think and re-commit themselves in their service to the community.
“The Holy Father noted this in his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, emphasizing that a profound Eucharistic spirituality is capable of affecting the social fabric,” Cardinal Bertone added.
“An active participation in the liturgy makes the Christian more aware of his vocation and responsibility to be a sign and witness of a radically new way of acting in the world,” he said.
“Called to contribute in the building up of the earthly city,” the cardinal wrote, Christians “are thus committed to favoring the dynamics of participation and responsibility, solidarity and subsidiarity in the economic and social spheres, which are at the service of the person and of the common good,” he said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzalez has called on Mexicans and their leaders to stop abusing Central American immigrants who cross through Mexico on their way to the United States.
Referring to the extortion and fraud that many immigrants traveling to the United States suffer, Bishop Gonzalez said that if they are not going to be helped during their travels, at least they should not be abused, because ‘the Lord cares for the pilgrim (and) he does so through us so that we will take care of them.”
Likewise, he pointed out that the agreement signed between federal and local governments not to separate immigrant mothers from their children and that they be allowed to stay together ensures that families will not be split up. “This should motivate us to make the lives of our immigrant brothers and sisters more humane.”
Bishop Gonzalez said he is praying that the United States will carry out just immigration reform for the thousands of Latin Americans who are seeking the American dream.
Buffalo, N.Y., Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - In response to some groups linked to liberation theology that are claiming that changes were made to the final Aparecida document of the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, the former secretary general of CELAM, Bishop Andres Stanovnik, said Monday such allegations were baseless.
Bishop Stanovnik said the final document, which was approved by the CELAM on May 31, “was returned to CELAM for final revision, which consisted in correcting typos, grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. The style was improved and various paragraphs that were out of place were more properly ordered. In some cases, numbers were replaced by letters; footnotes were corrected, and confusing wording in some places was improved. This was done in constant communication with the Holy See. There were not alterations to the content of any of the document’s paragraphs.”
Bishop Stanovnik also noted that the after the final review, the document was sent to the Holy Father on June 11. The text was reviewed by various Curial offices, “which made suggestions to the Holy Father about several sections of the document.”
Consequently, he explained, “the final document, which Benedict XVI authorized to be published, contains variations suggested by his advisors that, despite the emphasis they gave to certain numbers of the document, did not substantially modify the text approved by the assembly in Aparecida.”
The bishops chose by the Pope to attend the 5th CELAM conference did not make up “an independent organism,” but rather they worked “in communion with Peter and under Peter, and thus the Holy Father has the power to introduce variations that he considers appropriate to the texts produced by the assembly.”
Vatican City, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, until now Apostolic Nuncio en Bangladesh, as the new Nuncio to Uganda.
Archbishop Tschang In-Nam was born on October 30, 1949 in Seoul, South Korea, and he was ordained to the priesthood on December 17, 1976 for the Diocese of Cheongju. After working at the Vatican Secretariat of State, he was named Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh on October 19, 2002.
Lima, Peru, Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - As part of the 9th National Eucharistic Congress taking place in the city of Chimbote, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, presided over the ordination of Bishop Gaetano Galbusera, SDB, the new coadjutor bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pucallpa.
The ordination took place in the new Cathedral of Chimbote, which was inaugurated during the Congress. Bishop Galbusera was accompanied by his brothers in the episcopate, priests, religious and numerous members of the Salesians, of which he is a member.
During his homily, Cardinal Bertone called the ordination a “great event, which is framed in a context of a spirituality, as is the National Eucharistic Congress, in which the community gathers around the Eucharist and mediates on the love of Christ.”
“As a testimony of the love of God, providence today grants a special gift to the Church in Peru, a new pastor. Let us pray for him, that the Lord will grant him the necessary graces, that he may carry out firmly the mission the Lord has entrusted to him,” the cardinal said.
Bishop Galbusera was appointed by Benedict XVI on July 18. Previously he was rector of the Major Seminary of Pumallucay in the Prelature of Huari.
San Francisco, Calif., Aug 28, 2007 (CNA) - In his new book, Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church (Ignatius), Pope Benedict XVI shows clearly the real relationship between Christ and His Church by way of His earliest followers. Despite what many modern-day “profiles” of Jesus and the Apostles seek to put forth, the Pope shows that Jesus’ first disciples faithfully conveyed the truth about Him, and conscientiously laid the foundations for the growth of the Church.
The new hardcover book tells of the unique drama of Christ’s first disciples – his Apostles and their immediate successors – and how they spread His message throughout the ancient world, remaining faithful to it even at the expense of their own lives.
In just 163 pages, Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church presents a clear, undistorted picture of Christ and His early Church – through which the faithful today can still know the real Jesus. The book is intended to have wide appeal to all Christians, with its focus on the authentic, historical Jesus and the genuine story of His first disciples.
The Holy Father engenders among his readers a newfound appreciation and understanding of the individual and very active roles the soldiers for the young Church played, as he draws upon Scripture and tradition to present a fascinating journey back to the origins of Christianity.
“Before being sent out to preach, they [the Apostles] had to “be” with Jesus (cf Mark 3:14), establishing a personal relationship with him,” says the Pope in the book. Then after Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, He would send his Apostles “to the whole creation” (Mark 16: 15), to “all nations” (Matthew 28: 19; Luke 24: 47), “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “And this mission continues,” says the Pope, “this is our hope and our mandate…”.
Pope Benedict XVI demolishes the many widespread myths and misconceptions about the early Christians. Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church allows contemporary readers to discover the accurate history of Jesus and that of his early followers.