Archive of September 4, 2007

Archbishop Nichols calls for liturgical renewal based on 1962 Latin Mass; Rome pays attention

London, England, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Vincent Nichols has enthusiastically endorsed Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio concerning the renewal of the 1962 Latin Mass. In a speech to the Latin Mass society in Oxford this last week, he said, “[p]lease remember that what you study here is not a relic, not a reverting to the past, but part of the living tradition of the Church.”

This warm reception of the new motu proprio is far from typical, according to the British paper The Times.

In his speech to the Latin Mass Society in Oxford, Archbishop Nichols said: “Please remember that what you study here is not a relic, not a reverting to the past, but part of the living tradition of the Church. It is, therefore, to be understood and entered into in the light of that living tradition today.”

Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of The Catholic Herald, said: “On the whole, the bishops of England and Wales have failed to respond to the Pope’s deeply inspiring Apostolic Letter, which liberated the ancient liturgy and offered it as a resource for the whole Church. The only bishop who appears to understand the Pope’s programme of liturgical reform and seems prepared to respond to it is the Archbishop of Birmingham.”

The Archbishop’s backing for liturgical renewal has led The Times to speculate that Archbishop Nichols is a prime candidate to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who will hand in his resignation this time next year.

Archbishop Nichols also turned some heads in Rome with his campaigns to improve the way Catholicism is covered by the media. His highest profile effort was the fight against the BBC series Popetown, which forced the British media giant to withdraw the cartoon series. The prelate also was able to stop the Government to abandon its plans for a non-faith quota of pupils for faith schools.

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Notre Dame to offer Latin Mass in the fall

South Bend, Ind., Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - The University of Notre Dame has announced it will offer the Mass in its extraordinary form, that is in Latin, on campus as soon as the necessary requirements, outlined in Pope Benedict’s motu proprio July 7, are fulfilled.

The requirement specified in an announcement from the university’s campus ministry department is a celebrant who is familiar with Latin and the rubrics of the Roman Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

This Mass is tentatively scheduled for Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. in the chapel of Alumni Hall.

Celebrants for these liturgies will be appointed by the director of campus ministry or the rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, who each have jurisdiction over the celebration of some of the sacraments on campus.

The current form of the Mass, known as the ordinary for of the Roman Rite, will continue to be celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart as well as in the residence halls.

This fall, campus ministry will provide a catechesis on the Eucharist. It will provide  students with a deeper understanding of the Eucharist, the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass, and the Pope’s motu proprio.

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Venezuelan priest fears government interference in Catholic schools will lead to civil war

Konigstein, Germany, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - The Venezuelan government is increasingly interfering with Catholic education, leading to divisions across the country and possibly paving the road for a civil war. 

A Catholic priest and headmaster of a Catholic school in Venezuela has expressed his fear that the government will confiscate Church schools and health facilities as part of its nationalization program of the education and health systems.

He also cited that his activity in the school is increasingly threatened. The state has increasingly been exerting influence on the subject matter of the teaching, he alleged, adding that the schools were now compelled to use state-approved teaching materials and indoctrination was constantly on the increase.

Just as prolific, are deliberate campaigns to denigrate the Catholic Church in the public mind. The government has continued to vilify and attack the Church in the person of her representatives, the bishops and priests, the priest told the international Catholic pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).  The state was adopting an “increasingly aggressive tone,” he said, and there was a “dramatically deepening gulf between the Church and the government.”

According to him, the divisions in Venezuelan society between opponents and supporters of the policies of President Hugo Chavez have never been as profound as they are today.  A division in society is never good, he said, but if such a situation were to grow worse, and people were to become too impatient, it could even degenerate into a civil war, he explained. But even without such an extreme outcome, he still believes that difficult times are coming to Venezuela and to the Catholic Church in this country.

Javier Legorreta, one of ACN’s Latin America specialists, also sees a growing threat to the Church in Venezuela.  “We are following the situation there very closely, and we are deeply concerned,” he emphasised. “Apart from financial help, the Church in Venezuela above all needs our solidarity and prayers and our moral support for greater social justice,” he said.

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Church attributed with development of Sri Lankan film industry

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - An award-winning Sri Lankan filmmaker credits the Catholic Church’s media initiatives with having developed and improved the country’s film industry.

Prasanna Vithanage, who won this year’s SIGNIS Sri Lanka Gold Award for directing, said SIGNIS and its predecessor, the International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisuals (OCIC), served as the breeding ground for many current Sri Lankan filmmakers.

Vithanage told UCA News that, as a boy, he and his friends enjoyed watching and reviewing films at a mini-theater OCIC organized in Colombo. Those experiences provided the inspiration for many filmmakers in the industry today, he said.

"We do not have a film school in Sri Lanka even now," he pointed out. "We learned everything through watching films.” Four of Vithanage’s five films have won SIGNIS golden awards.

The SIGNIS Sri Lanka Awards for film and television are similar to the Academy Awards in the United States. They recognize achievements in various categories. The Aug. 18 gala event drew 400 people this year with Archbishop Oswald Gomis of Colombo and veteran film director Sumithra Peiris as the guests of honor. 

Deepthi Fonseka, consulting editor of the newspaper Sarasaviya, agreed about the contribution of the Catholic Church to the Sri Lankan film industry.

"SIGNIS (Sri Lanka) is one of the award ceremonies appreciated by the industry," she told UCA News. "The Catholic Church has made a significant contribution to audiovisual communication over the years. It has helped raise standards in the industry."

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Catholic Familyland to host 20th annual family conference

Bloomingdale, Ill., Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - Catholic Familyland, the 950- acre center in Southeastern Ohio, will host its 20th annual international "Totus Tuus Consecrate Them in Truth" Family Conference this month.

The theme of the Sept. 14-16 conference is, “The Eucharist, Family, and Presence". Cardinal Francis Arinze will deliver the conference keynote address and hold a question-and-answer session with conference participants. 

"The goal of this event is to highlight the importance of teaching our children the faith and to strengthen familial relationships,” said Jerry Coniker, who co-founded Catholic Familyland with his late wife Gwen.

Other conference speakers include Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Kimberly Hahn, and Fr. Kevin Barrett.

The Apostolate for Family Consecration was founded in 1975. Its goal is to sanctify and consecrate families in the truths of the Catholic faith, using the modern means of social communications. It also operates Catholic Familyland, a family retreat center, and the Familyland Television Network.

For more information, call 1-800-773-2645 or visit

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Rabbi praises Pope Benedict for his clear teaching

, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - A rabbi from Monsey, New York, has lauded Pope Benedict XVI for reinstating the Latin Mass and affirming that only Catholic Church qualifies as the one, true Church.
In an article titled The Pope’s Got A Point and published in the July 18 issue of The Jewish Press, Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz says he is “not at all put off by the fact that the leader of another religion sees that religion as primary.”
“I’ve always found it curious that people of different religions get together in a spirit of harmony to share their common faiths,” he writes. “By definition, these people should have strong opposition to the beliefs of their ‘colleagues’ at the table. The mode of prayer of one group should be an affront to the other group.
“What the pope is saying – and I agree 100 percent – is that there are irreconcilable differences, and we can’t pretend those differences don’t exist,” he states. “I can respect the pope for making an unambiguous statement of what he believes.”
While all people, created in God’s image, and their beliefs are worthy of respect, “we don’t need to play games of ‘I’m okay, your okay’ with beliefs we find unacceptable,” he writes.
Rabbi Seplowitz notes that the original form of the Latin Mass included a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. When the Latin Mass was reinstated, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations wrote to the Vatican, requesting that the conversion prayer not be reintroduced.
“I ask you, does this make sense? Where do we Jews get off making demands of Catholics that they only say prayers that meet with our approval?” he asks. “The audacity of Jews dictating to Christians how they should pray is simply mind-boggling.”
“Should we allow the Vatican to dictate what we say in our prayers? Or should we, perhaps, do a line-by-line analysis of the Talmud to make sure there is nothing there that people may find offensive?” he writes.

The rabbi says he is not suggesting Jewish leaders should not talk with Catholic leaders. “The pope needs to know, for example, that it is good to encourage his millions of followers to support Israel and that it is bad to hate Jews,” he writes.

But the dialogue need not be theological, he suggests. “There needs to be careful dialogue, but it needs to be a secular, common, needs-based dialogue. We should not be studying Talmud together and we should not be discussing prayer.”

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Educational programs pushing anthropology without God, denounces Spanish cardinal

Toledo, Spain, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - The archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, denounced educational programs in the country that aim for “the disappearance of man, of the truth about man,” despite the fact that man’s greatness is “found in God.”

Without explicitly mentioning the Education for Citizenship course, the cardinal lamented that educational programs in Spain promote “a godless anthropology.”  “That’s the reason for the position of the bishops and of so many Christians who have responded to certain educational aspects [of Spain’s pro-homosexual educational program], because we are conscious that of what is at risk,” he said during a farewell Mass for three priests who are being sent to Peru.

In this sense, Cardinal Canizares criticized modern society saying that “today’s culture has no future because it is based on a defeated mankind” and goes against the gospel values.

“Today’s culture sees a humble mankind as a defeated mankind, as a mankind that has no perspective or future, because everything depends on mankind, on the decision of mankind, on mankind that only worries about himself,” he explained.

The cardinal said the “spirit of the modern age” is characterized but a “constructivism” that destroys man.  The media contributes to this withdraw of God from man’s life, “and we are swallowing that in a suicidal and unconscious manner.”

“We need to follow God’s model and not that of the cynics.  We need to follow the path of the wise, to follow the wisdom of God, because thus we will walk in the truth that makes us free,” he said.

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Christian Liberation Movement calls for electoral laws allowing Cubans “to elect and be elected”

Havana, Cuba, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, said a letter has been sent to the Cuban National Congress calling for the approval of a new electoral law allowing Cubans to run for political office and have free elections, instead of the current system that only allows one candidate to run.

Current law only allows one candidate to run per open seat at the local and national levels, “and therefore voters are not really electing.”  Paya noted that only the regime’s Commission of Candidacies can nominate contenders for political office.

The dissident leader stressed that the Cuban people seek peaceful political change and that for this reason their rights and faculties need to be guaranteed.  The electoral laws and the elections process are where “this right to sovereignty” is either whisked away or fulfilled, Paya said.

“On the one hand, the law is filled with contradictions with the constitution itself and with the right to sovereignty which resides in the people, on the other hand the atmosphere of intolerance and the lack of respect for freedom and civil and political rights make it impossible for the electoral process to be truly democratic,” he continued.

The CLM called on all Cubans to support the demand for new electoral laws, in an atmosphere in which there is respect for the freedom of expression and the right to participate in the life of the country—rights for which “many Cubans are unjustly imprisoned.”

The CLM first called for election reform on December 10, 1997. On May 10, 2002, the organization presented the “Varela Project,” which proposed a referendum for change in Cuba.  More than 11,000 signed a petition supporting the idea.  On October 3, 2003, the Varela Project was presented to the government again, this time with an additional 14,000 signatures.

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Our Church “without borders” is called to welcome the immigrant, says Guatemalan bishop

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - The head of Migrant Ministry of the Bishops’ Conference of Guatemala, Bishop Rodolfo Bobadilla Mata, said this week that immigration should not be viewed as a problem but as “a great resource” for humanity. He also emphasized that the Church, which has no borders, should welcome immigrants, who are forced to leave their places of origin in search of a better future.

In a pastoral letter marking National Immigrant Day in Guatemala, the bishop wrote, “The Church, as Mother, should see herself as a Church without borders, a family Church, attentive to the growing phenomenon of human mobility in its different aspects.”

He said the occasion was an opportunity “to reflect on the drama that immigrant persons experience,” especially families that are separated because of forced migration.

The Church, both in their places of origin and in their places of destiny, should minister to these persons, “sharing with them the riches of their faith and of their religious traditions.”

Bishop Bobadilla also said the Church should prophetically denounce the mistreatment immigrants frequently endure and should exhort governments to “implement an immigration policy that takes into account the rights of persons who are migrating,” such as family reunification, instead of raids and massive deportations, “like the ones carried out unilaterally by the United States and other countries in the region.”

Bishop Bobadilla called for greater solidarity and encouraged Guatemalans to be “bridges of hope in a globalized world in which social injustice and violations of the human rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters are more common every day.”

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Chilean senate to vote on bill that would legalize homosexual unions

Santiago, Chile, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - The organization Muevete Chile has launched a campaign to persuade the Chilean Senate not to approve an anti-discrimination bill that would open the door to homosexual unions.

According to the organization, on Wednesday, September 5, “the Senate will vote on an anti-discrimination bill that would approve and take the step of promoting homosexual conduct.”  Although the bill supposedly would protect against “arbitrary discrimination,” it would punish those who oppose homosexual tendencies with legal and economic sanctions.

Muevete Chile said the homosexual lobby, and not Chilean voters, is pushing for the bill.  “The rejection of this bill should in no circumstance mean that homosexual men and women should not be treated with respect and care, but rather on the contrary, they should be treated with the greatest respect possible because of the inherent and inalienable dignity that each human being possesses, thus avoiding any sign of unjust discrimination,” the group said.

“Respect for homosexual persons can in no way be considered approval of homosexual behavior or of the legalization of homosexual unions,” it stressed.  “To legally recognize homosexual unions, would mean to approve this behavior and turn it into a model for today’s society.”

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Cardinal Bergoglio slams those “who think they own life”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 4, 2007 (CNA) - During a Mass on the feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, slammed those who “think they own life,” and he said, “We are all invited to the banquet of life.”

“The joy of living is given to all, it is a gift,” the cardinal stressed, offering a special prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus, the patron saint of the unborn and of pregnant women.

“Those who think they own life are mistaken,” he said. “We should not think that because we have a little bit of power, we can monopolize or make ourselves the owners of life.”

“The greater you are the more humble you must be, because the great power makes one dizzy, and when you get dizzy you say foolish things that are out of place,” the cardinal emphasized.

He warned against the pride of those who “think they own life and can say who can live and who can die.”  He encouraged Argentineans to reflect on the three words “permission, thanks, and forgiveness.”

“Thanks for the gift of life, and forgiveness for the times we have not lived up to life,” he told the faithful. 

After the Mass, which was attended by pregnant women and married couples who desire to have children, the cardinal blessed images of St. Raymond.  He also prayed a special blessing for couples seeking to have children.

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