Fargo, N.D., Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - In a letter posted on the Diocese of Fargo Web site, Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of Fargo, encourages the faithful to participate in the national, ecumenical “40 Days for Life” campaign.
According to the national campaign Web site, http://www.40daysforlife.com, “40 Days for Life” is a pro-life campaign “to raise awareness, save lives, bring healing, and prepare America for the beginning of the end of abortion.” The campaign will be conducted simultaneously Sept. 26 through Nov. 4 in 89 cities in 33 states. It involves prayer, fasting, community outreach and peaceful vigil outside abortion facilities.
“Make a plan for prayer and fasting,” Bishop Aquila writes. “Then, if you are not homebound or physically impaired, schedule an hour or more of prayerful vigil. I have asked each priest of the diocese to do the same and to challenge you to follow his example.”
The bishop has already scheduled a personal time of prayer. “I will be at the abortion facility on Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m.” he writes.
The state of North Dakota, which includes the Diocese of Fargo and the Diocese of Bismarck, has only one abortion facility – located in Fargo. Bishop Aquila conducts a public prayer service in front of the facility each Good Friday. The diocesan Respect Life office coordinates a Eucharistic procession to the abortion facility each year, with this year’s procession to be October 7, Respect Life Sunday.
In the letter Bishop Aquila reminds readers of the words of John Paul II in The Gospel of Life, quoting “the life of every individual, from its very beginning, is part of God’s plan.” The bishop then continues in his own words, “Think about what these words express. A definite plan exists in the heart of God for every human life – your life, my life, the life of every child growing within the womb of its mother. Knowing these words are true, how can we be silent when unborn children are killed through abortion, every week, within our own diocese?”
“Each day people who are active in pro-life efforts pray for those considering abortion, educate the public about the abortion crisis, and do other good works to protect the lives of unborn children,” the bishop writes. “I commend them and thank them. Those efforts save lives and change hearts. They help to keep abortion numbers low in North Dakota.”
“But low numbers are not enough,” he continues. “Not even one abortion per week is acceptable. Not one per month. Not one per year. Not one in our lifetime.”
Bishop Aquila quotes the Declaration of Independence, then notes, “The dignity of the human person begins at the moment of conception, not at birth. The dignity, as recognized by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, is bestowed by the Creator, and no one has the right to destroy innocent unborn life.”
The bishop addresses specific prayer intentions for the “40 Days for Life” campaign, writing “we will pray for the mothers, fathers and families who have experienced abortions, for those who provide and assist in abortions, for those who encourage mothers toward abortion, for politicians who support so-called abortion rights, for court justices, and for a change of heart within all persons who have abandoned the truth of the dignity of human life from the moment of conception. We will also pray for ongoing strength and courage for our politicians and judges who faithfully defend the lives of mothers and children by opposing abortion. Their efforts on behalf of true human dignity and civic responsibility are invaluable in the defense of life.”
He continues, “I ask you to pray especially for the conversion of the hearts and minds of Catholic and Christian politicians who have chosen to follow secularism and political expediency rather than the truth of the Gospel. Beg God to enlighten their hearts and minds with the truth and grant them receptivity to the truth. Pray that their hearts and minds may be opened to see the errors of their judgment. Pray that their consciences may be well-formed, upright and truthful.”
Bishop Aquila directs readers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s entries on conscience (numbers 1776-1802). He had done so in 2004, as well, when he wrote a pastoral letter on conscience, “You Will Know the Truth and the Truth Will Set You Free” (available at http://www.fargodiocese.org/bishop/Homilies/PastoralOnTruth.pdf.)
The letter to the faithful continues, “God has called us to put an end to abortion in the state of North Dakota. He does not call us to do what is impossible, but to proclaim the gift of life and to build a civilization of truth and love.”
The full text of the letter, which will also be printed in the Diocese of Fargo newspaper, New Earth, can be found at www.fargodiocese.org.
Bishop Aquila’s letter to priests, which shared with them his support of “40 Days for Life,” can be found on the site as well.
Vatican City, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - With end-of-life issues receiving an increasing amount of attention in recent years, the bishops of the United States sent a series of questions to the Vatican about providing food and water to those near death. Today the Vatican published its response to these questions and implicitly condemned the treatment of Terri Schiavo, a comatose Florida woman who was starved to death when her husband and doctors withheld food from her.
The replies to the questions posed by the bishops were published in a document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and were approved by the Holy Father.
The first question the bishops asked was: “Is the administration of food and water (whether by natural or artificial means) to a patient in a 'vegetative state' morally obligatory except when they cannot be assimilated by the patient's body or cannot be administered to the patient without causing significant physical discomfort?”
The CDF replied that, “Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper end, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.”
Cardinal William Levada, the head of the CDF, also provided further clarification noting that there may be circumstances of poverty or geographical remoteness where the means of artificially providing food and water to a patient may not be available. In this case, those caring for the patient should do all that they are able to keep that person alive.
He also noted that it could occur that a person’s body might stop retaining even artificial nutrition or water. If this occurs then it would be okay to stop providing them with food and water.
The Vatican was also asked by the U.S. bishops about another situation which is reminiscent of the Terri Schiavo case. The prelates asked, “When nutrition and hydration are being supplied by artificial means to a patient in a 'permanent vegetative state,' may they be discontinued when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness?”
The response from the Vatican maintained clear and consistent respect for life at all its stages. The CDF responded, “No. A patient in a 'permanent vegetative state' is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means."
Echoing a key distinction that Pope John Paul II made in a 2004 speech, Levada said, “[T]he provision of water and food, even by artificial means, always represents a 'natural means' for preserving life, and is not a 'therapeutic treatment.' The late Holy Father’s teaching was in direct opposition to those argued that food and water can be considered extraordinary means to prolong a patient’s life.
Speaking directly to a situation like Terri Schiavo’s, Cardinal Levada said, “Its [food and water] use should therefore be considered 'ordinary and proportionate,' even when the 'vegetative state' is prolonged."
Quebec City, Canada, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican has excommunicated members of the controversial Community of the Lady of All Nations, better known as the Army of Mary, based in the Archdiocese of Quebec.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration of excommunication on July 11, after extensive consultations with the Canadian bishops and the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Pope Benedict XVI approved the declaration, which was only announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 12.
Despite repeated warnings by the Canadian bishops, including their local bishop, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, members of the Army of Mary participated in ordinations forbidden by the Catholic Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said it was forced to issue the declaration because of “the very grave situation” and because there was no “hope of another solution.” The investigation into the Army of Mary has been going on for six years.
Those excommunicated include Fr. Jean-Pierre Mastropietro for having attempted to perform ordinations as well as the six “priests” and “deacons” claiming to have been ordained by him.
The declaration noted that other members who participated at the ordinations, despite a warning from the cardinal, and those who continue to associate with the movement have entered into schism with the Church and are also, therefore, excommunicated. The excommunications were incurred automatically.
The declaration concludes by stating: “Whoever knowingly and deliberately embraces this doctrine incurs an excommunication latae sententiae due to heresy.”
"It is our hope that the clarification provided by this present Declaration will assist those whose faith may be harmed by this schismatic group to remain faithful to the Catholic Church,” reads a letter that accompanies the declaration.
The excommunications follow a lengthy process, including appointments by the Holy See of Pontifical Commissioners for the priests associated with the Army of Mary. Bishop Gilles Cazabon, OMI, of Saint-Jérome served in this capacity until 2003. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, of Ottawa succeeded him.
The Canadian bishops had issued a doctrinal note in 2001, confirming that the teachings promoted by the Army of Mary were contrary to the doctrines of the Church. The group has contradicted the Catholic faith by claiming that their founder, 86 year-old Marie-Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In March 2007, Cardinal Ouellet issued a warning that those responsible for the Army of Mary had excluded themselves from the Catholic Church, that its particular teachings were false, and its activities were not to be attended or supported by Catholics.
Ann Arbor, Mich., Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Ave Maria School of Law, which has been embroiled in a bitter dispute over a planned move from Michigan to Florida, may face a challenge to its continued accreditation, according to a letter released last week by the law school's dean, Bernard Dobranski.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a committee of the American Bar Association notified the school over the summer that it appears to have failed to take the necessary steps to keep a qualified faculty.
The committee gave the dean until Dec. 15 to submit a report demonstrating the law school's compliance with that standard. The report should include "updated information regarding departures and hires of full-time faculty," the letter said.
Dobranski said he was releasing the information to the campus, even though such matters are usually kept confidential, because of "the level of misrepresentation and speculation which has surfaced regarding the ABA's inquiry."
"Of all of the various allegations regarding school governance, academic freedom, and other issues, the only matter on which the ABA has asked us to report regards faculty hiring and retention," Dobranski wrote in his letter.
More than half of the professors at the Roman Catholic law school, now in Ann Arbor, Mich., are fighting a plan to move it to Ave Maria, Florida, in 2009.
The ABA visited the law school last year after faculty members sent a formal complaint to the bar association.
“Mirror of Justice” (MOJ), a blog that is comprised of an impressive array of law professors who are dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory, has also weighed in on the Ave Maria situation.
The group said faculty had not had any meaningful input into the decision to relocate the school and that the administration had intimidated faculty members to prevent them from speaking out against the move. They said one outspoken critic of the administration was suspended, and others have left or been denied promotions or tenure.
MOJ also asserted that the law school failed to live up to the Catholic notions of justice — procedural fairness, truthfulness, and concern for the person and the family.
“In suspending the one tenured and two untenured faculty members, Ave Maria School of Law has deprived them of the dignity of their work – their vocation – without adequate process,” Mirror of Justice said in their statement about the situation. “And, in suspending the tenured faculty member without pay, AMSL has failed to take into account the well-being of that faculty member’s family.”
The group also reported that the dean received a “no confidence vote” from the faculty in April 2006.
Washington D.C., Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - Both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are investigating a book, which raises issues about the uniqueness of Christ and the Church. Fr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University authored the book, titled Being Religious Interreligiously.
The Dallas priest and prominent theologian is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The book in question was published by Orbis in 2004.
According to a report by John L. Allen Jr., Fr. Phan received a July 2005 letter from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith. It presented 19 observations under six headings, charging that Phan's book "is notably confused on a number of points of Catholic doctrine and also contains serious ambiguities."
The central problems with Fr. Phan’s text are reportedly related to: Christ as the unique and universal savior of the world; the role and function of the Catholic Church in salvation; the saving value of non-Christian religions.
The letter said the book is in conflict with the 2000 Vatican document Dominus Iesus, which states that non-Christians are "in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation."
The congregation asked Fr. Phan to write an article to correct the problems and to instruct Orbis not to reprint his book. Fr. Phan reportedly replied in April 2006, offering to comply under certain conditions.
According to Allen, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chair of the Committee on Doctrine for the U.S. bishops, also wrote Fr. Phan in May.
The bishop said the Vatican had asked his committee to examine the book, and that it wanted Fr. Phan to respond to an enclosed three-page set of observations. He indicated that his committee would publish its own statement.
Madrid, Spain, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - In an interview with the Spanish weekly “Alba,” the secretary general of the Spanish Federation of Religious Teachers, Father Manuel de Castro, admitted for the first time that the controversial course Education for Citizenship should be kept out of all schools and he asked officials to accept the objections of parents who do not want their kids to be taught “moral principles they do not share.”
After months of refusing to take a position on the issue, Father de Castro told Alba, “I would like to see public schools honor the objections and the ministry reverse its direction.”
Although he said the Ministry of Education’s decision was “acceptable,” he explained that some books in the course are not, and that he understood the objections of many parents. He asked that their objections be honored.
According to Father de Castro, the controversy has sprung up over “the attempt to introduce moral principles that are not shared” by parents of the students, and added that Education for Citizenship is the secular opposite of the times in which “Catholic morality was imposed even through law.”
“Education for Citizenship could be considered an imposition,” the priest said. Asked why he did not state such a position before, he responded that he was never asked the question.
Father de Castro said he believes all schools, Catholic and public, should educate students in values, “but in values that are shared and accepted by all.” Schools should not teach moral principles that fly in the face of parents’ values.
“For us ideally the issue of the family should have been left out; we would not be arguing now if that were the case,” he said, adding that “neither the State nor any other person can use schools to impose values that are not shared.”
Alba noted this was the first time Father de Castro had openly spoken about the course. “He justifies his silence by saying that after negotiating over the text with the ministry and—in his opinion—having had a significant portion of his objections taken into account, he is not able to openly criticize the course. In addition, Father de Castro acknowledges that conscientious objection has been a controversial subject even in the Federation, a state entity with 16 delegates and ‘distinct sensibilities’.”
In preparation for the beginning of the new school year, 31 associations promoting conscientious objection to the course have put together a guide for parents whose children will be subjected to the material in 2007-2008.
The guide instructs parents in their rights and explains how to present their objections to school officials. It tells them that once they have presented their objections in writing, they should not allow their children to attend the class. It also instructs them in what to do if school officials do not honor their request to have their children be exempted from the class.
Castelgandolfo, Italy, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - This morning, Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan, was received in audience by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in his summer residence at Castelgandolfo. The president also met with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States and, until last year, the pope’s representative in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
The discussions focused on the country's political and religious situation, with particular reference to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to the situation in Darfur. Both leaders expressed hope for the peace negotiations about the Darfur region which will be held on October 27 in Libya.
"Other subjects of joint interest were considered, such as the defense of life and of the family, the respect and promotion of human rights including the fundamental right of religious freedom, the importance of inter-religious dialogue and of collaboration between believers in all religions - in particular Christians and Muslims - for the promotion of peace and the common good. In this context, the positive role of the Catholic Church and her institutions in Sudanese society was reiterated, especially in the field of education."
Rome, Italy, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The former director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said he was not surprised by the success of Pope Benedict XVI’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and said, “In my opinion, the center, the principal focal point of this pontificate is what I would call the ministry of the intellect.
At a time in which there is great confusion in all levels of conception, the Pope is carrying out a stupendous ministry to the intellect, with extraordinary conceptual richness, and people are very sensitive to this. They have understood the value of the word the Pope is offering to all humanity,” Navarro-Valls said during an interview with Vatican Radio.
For Navarro Valls, “the book is part of this ministry to the intellect. Obviously there are very beautiful pages, of even an aesthetic nature; but it is conceptually very rich. How can I explain it? For Catholics it’s not enough to accept the divinity of Jesus; it’s also necessary to reflect on the meaning of the historical Jesus,” he said.
“An effort to clarify, to rationalize—a word often repeated by the Pope in this book—is needed,” Navarro Valls continued. “There is rationality of the faith in this pontificate, which was implicit in some way in the enormous body of work of Cardinal Ratzinger and is naturally confirmed in his pontificate.
“This kind of message is very current. It’s like an enormous catechesis but at a higher level that the people understand, that they follow, that the people feel they have understood. Returning to the book, many pages confirm what we are saying. I think it is precisely this that the people appreciate,” he said.
“To be honest, I must say I am not the least bit surprised at the initial success of this book, which will surely be a success in the long run,” the former Vatican spokesman said.
Seoul, South Korea, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Seoul has cautioned Catholics against meeting or consulting with the excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who is currently residing in South Korea with his wife.
Archbishop Milingo is the former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia. In a diocesan bulletin, dated Sept. 9, the archdiocese said lay Catholics must consult with their parish priests if they are invited to any meetings with the excommunicated prelate.
Milingo is promoting his U.S.-based Married Priests Now movement in South Korea. The 77-year-old is married to South Korean Maria Sung, who is a member of the Unification Church, founded by Reverend Moon Sun-myung.
Milingo incurred automatic excommunication in 2006 when he ordained four bishops without papal approval.
The former archbishop came to South Korea to take part in an "International Symposium on Catholicism Today” which the Unification School of Theology held in June at their premises in Gapyeong, 55 kilometers northeast of Seoul. During the conference, Milingo repeated his argument for married priests.
Fr. Peter Pai Young-ho, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, told UCA News Sept. 12 that "since Milingo is excommunicated, he has no authority to gather former Catholic priests or facilitate their Catholic priestly ministry."
Fr. Pai said Milingo fraternizes with Catholics and visits Catholic institutions as though he still holds episcopal office.
"It was reported that he has shown himself in Catholic archbishop's attire and held prayer meetings with local Catholics in several shrines in the country," the priest reported. "The shrine authorities, who did not recognize him, welcomed him, thinking he was a foreign archbishop visiting Korea.”
Madrid, Spain, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The National Catholic Confederation of Associations of Parents of Students is calling for the resignation of Spain’s Minister of Education and Science, Mercedes Cabrera, over her incompetence in addressing the decline in education in the country.
The confederation’s call for Cabrera’s resignation came after a decision to allow students to advance to the next grade even if they fail four subjects.
In a statement, the confederation explained that the measure adopted by Minister Cabrera demonstrated her “incompetence” in providing a solution for Spain’s failing schools, which rank last in Europe.
According to the organization, lowering the demands on students is “bad for everyone.” Students are less motivated to excel academically and teachers feel undermined and unappreciated. Parents are discouraged in their effort to teach kids the value of studying hard. The confederation also said the policy would result in more kids having to repeat grades and that repeating students would be mixed with students “who take their studies seriously.”
“A minister who does not have decorum to acknowledge her ineptitude in combating the failure of schools and in proposing realistic measures that are based on effort, as other European countries like France and Great Britain have done, and who seems more interested in indoctrinating than in educating, has no other solution than to resign,” the confederation said.
Santiago, Chile, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Eternal Word Television Network has expanded its coverage in Chile thanks to IPTV digital television, which is operated by Telefonica del Sur, and will offer the signal 24/7.
Andres Loyola Barberis, an official from Telefonica del Sur, said incorporating EWTN’s Spanish language signal was important because it is “the Catholic channel with the greatest and best coverage in the world,” and because his company “offers its service to a thoroughly Catholic society in which the network’s programming is highly appreciated.”
EWTN reaches more than 142 million homes in more than 140 countries through its eight television signals worldwide. It also operates a shortwave radio station and a satellite radio network, as well as one of the most visited Catholic websites.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 14, 2007 (CNA) - The father of a young handicapped girl who has been authorized to undergo an abortion is seeking to stop the procedure and has promised to help raise his grandson.
The 19 year-old girl became pregnant through rape, and although a lower court ruled an abortion could not be allowed, an appeals court stuck that ruling down, and in a few days the girl is scheduled to have an abortion at the request of her mother.
In statements to the media, Mario Martinez, the lawyer of the handicapped girl’s father, said he has contacted the administration of Children’s Hospital expressing his desire that “the pregnancy not be terminated and asking that doctors provide information and guidance to the mother of the girl about the dangerous consequences of abortion.”
Likewise, Martinez said the father has offered to add the baby to his health care insurance and provide for all of his post-natal needs as well as for the post-partum recovery of his daughter.
“The complexity of this matter and the human pain it causes is understandable, but we are convinced that terminating the pregnancy will benefit no one,” the lawyer said. He also said the father was considering asking the court to reverse the ruling, “but we are more concerned about doing concrete things to help protect the handicapped girl and the unborn baby.
The mother of the young girl accuses the father of abandoning the family 17 years ago and has threatened legal action against him if he insists on trying to stop the abortion.