Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Robert Luckert of Coro and vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference, said last week, “At this moment of so many difficulties, when the democratic constitutionality of the country is at risk, we must accept the invitation” to dialogue. “My own personal advice is this: it should not be a monologue,” he warned.
Speaking on Union Radio, the archbishop said it appeared that the constitutional reforms were sent to congress with the expectation they would be approved as-is and “that is what they are racing to do.”
Archbishop Luckert said there is great concern about an increase in corruption and about the idea of no presidential term limits. “If this is approved, in December we should put this phrase on the ballot below the box for president: As long as Chavez is breathing, don’t even think about running,” he stated.
The archbishop stressed that the bishops wanted to “at least make it known that we are not in agreement with the reform of the constitution, because when one sees the position of the National Assembly, it’s a monologue of deaf people where we go to make proposals but they are not going to listen.”
He said the bishops hope to receive a formal invitation to present their opinion. Next week, they plan to meet to study the reform and discuss the changes proposed by President Chavez.
, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender People (ABGLT) is attempting to silence its opponents, especially Christians, with a flurry of lawsuits designed to take advantage of the pro-homosexual atmosphere in the country.
According to a report by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman of Lifesite.net, the organization has filed lawsuits against various websites for exposing the fact that the leader of Brazil's homosexual movement, Luiz Mott, is a promoter of pedophilia and pederasty
“The sites, Media Without a Mask, the Christian Apologetics Research Center, and Jesussite, are accused of ‘charlatanism, infamy, defamation, and calumny’, for having quoted Mott's numerous statements endorsing sex with children and adolescents,” Hoffman writes.
“In the last week, the Association has also filed a motion against Rozangela Alves Justino, a Brazilian psychologist who offers therapy to homosexuals who wish to change their orientation,” the report continues. “Brazil's Federal Council of Psychologists has ruled that psychologists are prohibited from doing reparative therapy for homosexuality, and ABGLT is asking that Alves Justino's license be revoked.”
The Association has also recently requested an investigation of Silas Malafaia, a famous Brazilian psychologist and minister, for remarks he made on a TV program opposing homosexual behavior, abortion, and fetal stem cell research
Dr. Olavo de Carvalho, who edits Media Without a Mask, told LifeSiteNews that he sees the homosexual movement's quest for power as a subset of the larger socialist movement in Brazil, which is seeking more and more power: "I believe they really want lots of power because the homosexual movement is not independent. It is part of the leftist machine. And the left now in Brazil has almost total power. They control everything. They are more powerful than the Brazilian state itself, and this is not enough for them. They want more and more and more and more, and the homosexual movement is a tool of this strategy."
Although a law has been proposed to prohibit criticism of homosexuality, it has not yet passed. Nonetheless, many Brazilian judges simply act as if such a prohibition already exists. "They are proceeding as if the law existed...They want to force the parliament to approve the law, so they act as if the law were approved already. Many Brazilians believe that this law actually exists. It's a kind of psychological fraud," said Carvalho.
Madrid, Spain, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - After comparing the amount of aid the different European nations provide to families with children, the Institute for Family Policy (IFP) said Spain lags far behind and should urgently increase its aid in order to ensure the country’s demographic future.
“The amount of $33 per month in aid for families with incomes under $12,000 per year is an insult to Spanish families, since, in addition to being a small and insufficient amount, the vast majority of families with children, more than 90 percent, do not qualify to receive it,” said Eduardo Hertfelder, president if the IFP.
The limits on income are so restrictive that out of a population of 8.3 million children under the age of 18 in Spain, only 10 percent can actually receive the assistance. Hertfelder pointed out that two-income families that take in the equivalent of the government-established minimum professional salary cannot qualify for the aid.
“This situation is inconsistent with the rest of Europe,” Hertfelder said, that while “the majority of countries in Europe stand out for their universal assistance per child. Spain, together with Italy and Portugal, is the only European Union country that does not offer universal aid.”
The Institute also noted that the amount of family aid per child is “clearly insufficient and much less than the European average. This is provoking unjust discrimination against families of the rest of the EU countries.” The amount of aid provided to families in Spain has not gone up since 2000, Hertfelder noted.
“There is no reason why there cannot be universal aid per child by the year 2008,” he stated. “Only the lack of political will to help the family can block this demand by Spanish families,” Hertfelder said.
Milwaukee, Wis., Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - A 41-year-old coffee shop owner in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has decided to take vows as a consecrated virgin.
Eileen Belongea learned about this vocation in 1999 while visiting one of her sisters, who is a nun with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in southern Illinois.
"The Lord has given me the grace of virginity," she told the Associated Press. "It is he who has preserved it my whole life, and I offer it back to him. Through God's consecration, through the hands of the bishop, I'll receive the strength and the grace that I will need."
Bolongea owns the Brewers Two Cafe at Meadowbrook Marketplace, as well as two other coffee shops, with her twin sister. She says others find her choice intriguing and want to learn more about it.
"I haven't had anyone who didn't treat it with respect,” she told the AP.
Bolongea is scheduled to take her vows before Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee at her parish, St. Paul Church in Genesee Depot, on Sept. 8. She will make a commitment to lifelong celibacy and chastity before God and the Church.
Her life will not change all that much, however. She will continue to work at the coffee shop, pray and volunteer at her parish. She will wear a simple gold ring as a symbol of her consecration.
Fr. Rev. Al Veik, a Capuchin priest, who works with applicants as director of the archdiocese's office for consecrated life, said women who are attracted to this vocation do not want to join a religious order and live in a religious community.
Bolongea will be the eighth consecrated virgin in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee since Pope Paul VI reinstated the rite in 1970. They include teachers and lawyers.
The United States Association of Consecrated Virgins estimates there are 200 consecrated women in the U.S. and more than 3,000 worldwide.
Nairobi, Kenya, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - Two Episcopal priests, who split from the Episcopal Church over its acceptance of homosexual bishops, have been consecrated bishops for several breakaway congregations by an Anglican archbishop who is renowned for his conservatism.
Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya consecrated Bill Atwood of Texas and Bill Murdoch of Massachusetts at a service in Nairobi on Thursday, reported the AFP. The two men vowed to serve the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya and of the congregations in North America "under Kenyan jurisdiction."
Bishops Atwood and Murdoch will have about 30 Anglican congregations under their charge. These congregations had previously approached the Kenyan province for leadership.
During the service, Archbishop Nzimbi urged congregations to pray for homosexuals, but renewed his opposition for their consecration.
After the consecration, Bishop Atwood reportedly said the ceremony was not a political statement, but rather an act rooted in the Gospel.
Ten primates from Asia, Africa and Latin America attended the service.
Archbishop Drexel Gomez from the West Indies told AFP that the Gospel has to take precedence over culture.
"The issue is not primarily one of sexuality,” he was quoted as saying. “But one which seeks to answer the following question: Which relationship corresponds to God's ordering of life? Homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God in Holy Scripture.”
These are not the first episcopal appointments for breakaway churches in the United States.
In May, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria consecrated Martyn Minns of Virginia as bishop for an outreach program, called Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda consecrated John Guernsey yesterday to oversee 26 congregations that have left the Episcopal Church in Virginia.
Vatican City, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for September is: "That the ecumenical assembly of Sibiu in Romania may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians, for whom the Lord prayed at the Last Supper."
His mission intention is: "That, following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life."
Vatican City, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - This morning the Vatican woke up to the sad news that a member of its police force, Alessandro Benedetti, aged 26, had been gravely wounded by a gunshot wound to the head.
Benedetti was rushed to Santo Spirito Hospital, where he died from the apparent suicide attempt at around 9:00am.
According to a statement from the Holy See’s press office director, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, “[a] note found on the scene is currently being studied by Vatican magistrates” while they await the results of an autopsy.
Fr. Lombardi also noted that “[Alessandro’s] behavior had not, until now, given cause for concern” and that he had passed “the usual psychological aptitude selection process,” as well as “[the tests] concerning the handling of weapons” this past April.
While Benedetti's death has aroused memories of the 1998 Swiss Guard tragedy—when a corporal in the Swiss Guard killed the Swiss Guard commander and his wife before turning his gun on himself—it seems that the motivations are quite different.
ANSA news is reporting that the Benedetti’s death could be the result of his distress over a recent break-up with his girlfriend. On the other hand, the 1998 murder-suicide was caused, according to the Vatican, by Corporal Cedric Tornay being passed over for a promotion.
Pope Benedict has reportedly learned of Alessandro Benedetti’s death and expressed his great sadness. Fr. Lombardi said that, “He entrusts young Alessandro to the mercy of God, and remains spiritually close to the Benedetti family and to the members of the Gendarmerie."
The Gendarme is a branch of the Vatican’s police force that ensures the safety of Vatican City, but is separate from the famous Swiss Guard, which serves as the Pope’s personal protection force. The Gendarme consists of 130 highly-trained police that are usually drawn from Italian anti-terrorism forces.
Vatican City, Sep 3, 2007 (CNA) - In preparation for his visit to Austria this coming Friday through Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI wrote to the diocesan papers of Austria. The Holy Father writes that he wishes to address the current-day encounter between the Gospel and modern life in Austria.
"I love the magnificent landscapes of your homeland which remind me of the Sunday walks of my infancy, ... the great culture of Austria and the friendliness of your people," writes Benedict XVI.
"During my visit," he continues, "I will encounter a great culture enriched with the passing centuries, but above all I will encounter the present: the conflicts and questions of an ever more fast-moving age, the fatigue and faith of being Christian and coexisting with different cultures and traditions."
Austria's Marian "heart," says the Holy Father, is in the Shrine of Mariazell, and he recalls how his private chapel in the Vatican contains a copy of the Virgin of Mariazell which John Paul II brought with him from the shrine.
"When I pray in the chapel," Pope Benedict concludes, "the benevolent face of the Mother of God of Mariazell looks upon me, and I too perceive that sense of tranquillity ... which St. Joseph transmits to the Baby Jesus."