Archive of September 25, 2007

Public funding of Catholic schools creates debate in Ontario

Toronto, Canada, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - Arguments over when the State should support the Church are becoming louder and louder in Canada. The issue at stake for hundreds of thousands of students in Ontario, Canada is whether or not their Catholic schools will continue to receive state funding.


Opponents of state funding for the Catholic school system say that the State should not confer any special benefits on any religious institution. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has even seized on the campaign issue as a chance to try and end funding of Catholic schools altogether.       


The funding issue recently became a topic of debate when John Tory, the leader of the Progressive Conservative party, proposed a plan for to bring Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools into the public school system by providing state funding for them.


Currently, students who attend Catholic schools in Ontario have 100% of their tuition paid for by the government.


In a letter to the Toronto Star, the president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, Bernard Murray wrote the following:


“I speak on behalf of the 650,000 students in Catholic schools, and the 2.4 million Catholic school ratepayers who support our system, when I express my deep dismay at the assault launched today by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on Ontario's publicly funded Catholic schools.”


“For more than 160 years, Ontario's Catholic schools have contributed to Ontario community life in co-operation with our public school counterparts. Catholic schools are a value-added segment of public education chosen by a million Ontario parents for the academic excellence and holistic education that are their hallmarks. Any attempt to remove public funding for Catholic schools in Ontario would be extremely divisive and would be vigorously opposed by the Catholic community, and indeed all responsible citizens.”


“Our schools offer education in the Catholic faith tradition to hundreds of thousands of students who reflect Ontario's diverse cultures and ethnic groups. Rooted in our history, publicly funded Catholic schools are embedded in the social structure and life of our province.”

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Vatican opens new Stamp and Coin Museum

Vatican City, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - This morning the opening ceremony was held for the new Philatelic and Numismatic (Stamp and Coin) Museum of Vatican City State, located within the Vatican Museums.

The new museum brings together all the stamps and coins minted in Vatican City State from 1929 to the present day. It includes a section containing sketches, printing plates, plaster models, bronze casts and other materials illustrating the various phases in the production of stamps and coins.

The brand new museum also has an intriguing exhibit of the history of the postal service of the Pontifical State from the years 1852-1870. The pictures on display in the new museum are original sketches by various artists that have been used in the production of postal stamps and airmail stationary.

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European Heritage Days theme: “Europe a shared heritage. The continent’s Christian roots”

Vatican City, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy See announced today that it will participate in the "European Heritage Days," an initiative promoted by the Council of Europe in which more than 40 countries on the continent take part. The celebrations this year will take place on Sunday, September 30, on the theme: "Europe, a shared heritage. The continent's Christian roots."

On that day, entrance to the Vatican Museums and to the catacombs in Rome will be free of charge. At the San Callisto Catacombs on the Old Appian Way, a photographic exhibition will be inaugurated entitled "The Catacombs of Rome, a privileged destination for European pilgrims." The exhibition will remain open to the public until October 30, 2007.

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Cardinal Mahony commissions lay pastoral associates

Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Roger Mahony formally commissioned three lay women and one deacon as parish pastoral associates this month. The commissioning was done at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on Sept. 9.

According to the Los Angeles diocesan paper, The Tidings, pastoral associates are “professional ministers who share with their pastors the overall care of the parish.” They are usually full-time members of the parish staff and “accountable to the pastor.”

The Los Angeles Times featured one of the associates in their Sept. 10 issue. Noel Fuentes Becker, 42, has been assigned to St. Raphael Church, near Santa Barbara.

For 15 years, Becker was a technical writer in the high-tech industry. She left a six-figure salary in 2003 to become the parish’s administrative manager.

Her new role as pastoral associate will be to assist the pastor, Fr. Bruce Correio, in adult faith education and ministries coordination. She will also help with graveside services and prayer services.

Her pastor had suggested that she enter the archdiocese’s pastoral associates’ program. In May 2006, she received her master’s in theology in pastoral ministry from St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, and was certified as a pastoral associate.

Having gone through a divorce and annulment a decade ago, Becker told the Tidings she believes she will be able to help those who are going through the annulment process.

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Vatican rejects woman's claim to have received Marian apparitions

London, England, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican has rejected the appeals of a British woman for formal recognition of her community and her claims that she has received Marian apparitions for the last 20 years.

Patricia De Menezes, 67, has developed an international following since she first began “seeing” the apparition, dubbed “Our Lady of Surbiton”, in 1984.

The freelance jewelry designer insists that she has been given a divine message urging the Church to proclaim aborted babies as martyrs and be seen as companion martyrs of the first Holy Innocents.

The mother of three, a convert to Catholicism, founded the Community of Divine Innocence, which now has members in about 50 countries, reported The Telegraph.

When the Catholic Church in England and Wales rejected her claims in 2001, she appealed their ruling and sought approval for her movement from the Vatican.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came back with four areas of concern: the exaggerated claims made for the Community of Divine Innocence; the inappropriate words and phrases attributed to Jesus; the questionable demand made concerning the status of aborted children, and; the intemperate language used in the “Inspirations” when attacking Church authorities.

“Given [that] the supposed revelations which ground the spirituality of the Community of Divine Innocence are highly questionable, it follows that the community’s spirituality is flawed at its root,” the Vatican document said. “Because this spirituality thoroughly animates the community’s proposed constitution, it cannot be approved.”

Archbishop Angelo Amato, the secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said he found De Menezes' claims to be “exaggerated” and “hysterical”.
The archbishop added that the message that De Menezes claims to have received about the “martyrdom of all the innocent children deliberately killed before birth” was highly suspect.

"A martyr is someone who bears witness to Christ,” he said. “If the victims of abortion were to qualify for martyrdom it would then seem that all victims of any moral evil should be likewise deemed martyrs.”
The Archdiocese of Southwark, in which De Menezes lives, welcomed the ruling by the Holy See, indicating that it meant the sect had no backing from the Catholic Church.

In a statement, Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark said he received the Vatican’s decision on July 16.
“I am aware that many devout people, deeply committed to the pro-life movement, have become involved with the Divine Innocence,” he said. “I wish to encourage them in their work and prayer but in view of the Observations of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this must no longer be in the context of the organisation or spirituality of the Divine Innocence.”

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Billboard, highlighting campaign to ‘exterminate’ black babies, stolen

Denver, Colo., Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - A Colorado Right to Life billboard, which quoted the Planned Parenthood founder about her goal to “exterminate” the black population, was stolen last week.

Below the tagline “Planned Parenthood Kills Babies!” was a photo of a black baby and Margaret Sanger’s quote, which read: "We don't want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the negro population."

The billboard was stolen Saturday evening during the annual Light on Life Banquet Dinner for Colorado Right to Life. It was taken from the pro-life group’s Truth Truck.

Colorado Right to Life alleges that the sign was stolen by Planned Parenthood supporters. Police are investigating the theft.
The billboard was stolen just days before the pro-life group’s Sept. 26 protest of Weitz Construction Company. The company is under contract to build a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in North East Denver (Stapleton). It is expected to be the largest Planned Parenthood abortion facility in the nation.

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Fr. Frank Pavone to kick off rallies for 40 Days for Life

Chicago, Ill., Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) -
Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, will help to kick off two opening rallies for the 40 Days for Life Campaign.

Both rallies will be held tomorrow. The first will be in Chicago in the morning and the second in Amarillo, Texas, in the evening.  For the following 40 days, he and his pastoral team will travel to many other sites around the country where people will gather at local abortion centers to pray. 
"Abortion will end when the people of God say so,” he said in a statement. “Now is the time for people of every religious and political background to join together to stop the killing.  When we come out on the streets, we always win.  Fewer babies die and more consciences are stirred to action, starting with our own."
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign will likewise be present at many of the sites.  Silent No More gives women and men who regret their involvement with abortion an opportunity to share their testimonies at public gatherings.

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Holy See to organize conference “Woman and Man: The Totality of that which is Human”

Rome, Italy, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity will organize a conference on February 7-9, 2008, entitled, “Woman and Man: The Totality of what is Human,” as part of the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter on the dignity and vocation of women, Mulieres Dignitatem.

The event will take place in Rome and will include over 250 participants. It will focus on the late Pope’s historic letter, which is “a cornerstone of Pontifical teaching,” as “it was the first pontifical document to especially address the theme of women,” said Rocio Figueroa, an official of the Council for the Laity.

Representatives of various bishops’ conferences, as well as leaders of ecclesial movements that promote the role of women in the Church, are expected to attend.

Figueroa also encouraged the “participation of women from all five continents.”  The conference will feature a panel discussion on “Christianity and the promotion of women,” as well as debates on the promotion of women in Asia, the role of women in the transmission of the faith in Africa, the dignity of women “in the technological and consumerist society of North America,” and the comprehensive formation of women in Latin America.

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Mexican bishops rally behind Cardinal Rivera amidst charges of sex abuse cover-up

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - The bishops of Mexico have sent a letter to the Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, expressing their solidarity with him in the face of an “undeserved” orchestrated attack against him for which the cardinal is “suffering for the Church,” involving the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse by clergy.

In the letter, the country’s sixty-three other bishops said, “We are aware that in affecting his personal dignity, what is being sought is to affect the Gospel, the Church, the Episcopal ministry and priestly life:  you are suffering for the Church.”

They also expressed their appreciation for the suffering of Cardinal Rivera, who “is undoubtedly acceptable and pleasing in God’s eyes; we encourage him to continue bearing witness as a successor of the Apostles.”

They also reminded him that he is not alone and that his brother bishops are united with him. Those who signed the letter include Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez of Guadalajara, Archbishop Emilio Berlié of the Yucatan, Archbishop Francisco Robles of Monterrey, Archbishop José Luis Chávez Botello of Oaxaca, Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Archbishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago of León, and the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes.

Cardinal Rivera thanked his brother bishops for their solidarity.

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Profanations of churches not theft but attack on religious freedom

Madrid, Spain, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Antonio Canizares of Toledo, Spain, broke his silence this week and spoke out against the profanations of churches in various towns throughout the archdiocese and warned that the motive behind the attacks is not thievery but rather “an attack on religious freedom at its most intimate core.”

The cardinal made his comments known through a message read during Mass at the Cathedral of Toledo on Sunday.  The cardinal was not present at the Mass but instead was in the town of Fuensalida re-consecrating a church there that had recently been profaned.

The cardinal denounced the recent string of “similar profanations of robbery and insult of the Blessed Sacrament,” saying there have been “too many for us to remain silent.”

According to the cardinal the motive behind the profanations is not robbery, as the objects stolen were not of much value, but rather “a clear intention to harm respect for that which is most holy in Church and in the world: Jesus Christ.”

Cardinal Canizares called them “an attack on religious freedom in its most intimate core; a crime against the fundamental and inalienable right to religious freedom.”  He noted that the profanations have occurred at the same time that the Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting an exhibit featuring works that constitute an attack on “a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution, [the right of] religious freedom…and [the exhibition is an attack] against the faith and the Catholic Church,” financed in large measure by “public money.”

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Venezuelan cardinal says bishops are not politicians and have no interest in politics

Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, said this week the Venezuelan bishops are “not political operatives, nor do we have any political bias or political interests,” reaffirming what the country’s bishops have already said on various occasions.

The cardinal made his comments during the celebration of his silver jubilee as a bishop.  “Our interest is that there be peace, prosperity, harmony, justice and freedom in every corner of Venezuela,” he said.

“The Church is the people of God and the people of peace, and the bishops are builders of peace.  Each Christian should be part of this people of peace, and we are all builders of peace,” the cardinal said.

“We need a Church that prays, that grows, that has more apostolic movements, and more seminarians with better formation. This is a Church that exists already and that we must continue to build up and strengthen,” he stated. 

Cardinal Urosa also called for greater unity in the Church.  “May they be one so that the world might believe,” he said, thanking Benedict XVI, “with whom I feel closely united and who has been so kind as to show his closeness through a beautiful letter which we read at the beginning of this Eucharistic celebration.”

Constitutional reform

Before Mass Cardinal Urosa spoke with reporters and expressed his concern about the lack of interest among Venezuelans in learning about President Hugo Chavez’s proposed constitutional reforms.
While he said constitutional reform is “very important for the future of all Venezuelans,” he urged the proposals be “studied and debated”. 

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Pope praises Nicaragua for pro-life policies

Managua, Nicaragua, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - During a ceremony in which he received the letters of credence of Nicaragua's new ambassador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI praised that country for its policies respecting human life despite international pressure to legalize abortion.

During his remarks the Pope praised Nicaragua for "the position it takes on social questions in the international arena, especially as regards the theme of life, and in the face of no small amount of domestic and international pressure."

The Holy Father said it was very “positive that last year the national assembly approved the revocation of therapeutic abortion," and he affirmed the "need to increase the aid that state and society provide to women who have serious problems during pregnancy."

He went on to say that in order to resolve Nicaragua's various "economic, social and political problems," it is important for the country "to be able to rely, not only on the willingness and participation of citizens, but above all on that of the heads of various political and business groups."

The Pope also called for "transparency and honesty in public affairs," saying virtues are needed in order to achieve the goals the Nicaraguan government has set, such as the Zero Hunger campaign, combating the drug problem, increasing literacy, eliminating poverty, and "thus reducing the inequality between people who have a superabundance of wealth and those who lack the basic necessities."

The Church and Reconciliation

Later during his remarks, the Holy Father referred to the transcendental role the Church plays in the country in order to achieve reconciliation, peace and social justice.

In order to achieve these goals, the Pope noted, civil entities “will find in the Church of Nicaragua -- notwithstanding its lack of resources and with a firmness in principles inspired by the Gospel -- a sincere collaborator in seeking just solutions."  "They should also recognize the Church's efforts to increase the awareness and responsibility of citizens, encouraging their participation and commitment in serving the needs of people who are often immersed in poverty,” he added.

"The bishops of your country,” he continued, “faithful to their strictly pastoral mission, are ready to maintain a dialogue -- a constant and sincere communication -- with the government, contributing to the creation of the essential conditions that favor true reconciliation, establishing a climate of peace and authentic social justice.”

Benedict XVI also spoke of "the urgent necessity to retrieve and promote human and moral values in the face of so many forms of violence, even in the home and often as a result of the disintegration of families."

"The Church in Nicaragua is well aware of this sad state of affairs and seeks to face it with its teaching and pastoral programs," he said. "However the intervention of public institutions is also necessary, with appropriate educational programs on matters concerning the organization of social life."

At the outset of his remarks, the Holy Father assured Nicaraguans of his prayers for all those affected by the Category 5 storm, Felix, that hit Nicaragua on Sept. 4, voicing the hope that, "apart from domestic aid, they also receive generous contributions from the international community."

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Monsignor to UN: we have a “grave responsibility to protect the environment”

Vatican City, Sep 25, 2007 (CNA) - Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Under-Secretary for Relations with States, delivered a speech to the UN stressing that "everyone, without exception, has a grave responsibility to protect the environment."

The 62nd session of the UN General Assembly met to discuss the theme, “the future is in our hands: addressing the leadership challenge of climate change.”  Monsignor Parolin underscored that his “delegation wishes to stress the importance of environmental protection and the unification of the international community to “foster a healthy environment”.

He confirmed that scientists appear to have established a clear correlation between human activity and climate change, but cautioned that these results and remaining uncertainties “should neither be exaggerated nor minimized in the name of politics, ideologies or self- interest. Rather, they now need to be studied closely in order to give a sound basis for raising awareness and making effective policy decisions.”

The monsignor identified two attitudes that are particularly harmful to creation and humanity: The first is the “fundamentally reckless” approach in which people say, “we should actually exploit our world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a world view supposedly based on faith." The second approach is to treat the earth as the only good, and characterize[s] humanity as an irredeemable threat to the earth, whose population and activity need to be controlled by various drastic means.

He was also careful to mention that while there are these two points of view, “similar, though less extreme attitudes, also can clearly impede any sound global attempts to promote mitigation, adaptation, resilience and the safeguarding of our common future.”

“States are free to adopt international conventions and treaties, but unless our words are matched with effective action and accountability, we would do little to avert a bleak future and may find ourselves gathering again not too long from now to lament another collective failure," said Msrg. Parolin. 

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