San Francisco, Calif., Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - In a column to appear on Sunday, October 19 on "Catholic San Francisco," Archbishop George H. Niederauer apologizes for giving communion to two members of the militant anti-Catholic homosexual group "Sister of Perpetual Indulgence".
The Archbishop of San Francisco says in his column that "a recent event that greatly concerns me needs some additional explanation -- and with it an apology."
"On Sunday, October 7, 2007, I celebrated Mass at Most Holy Redeemer Parish here in San Francisco, during my first visit there. The congregation was devout and the liturgy was celebrated with reverence. I noticed no demonstration, no protest, no disruption of the Eucharist."
"At Communion time, toward the end of the line, two strangely dressed persons came to receive Communion. As I recall one of them wore a large flowered hat or garland. I did not recognize either of them as wearing mock religious garb."
"Afterward -the Archbishop explains- it was made clear to me that these two people were members of the organization "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," who have long made a practice of mocking the Catholic Church in general and religious women in particular."
"Only last year -he writes, - I instructed the Administrator of Most Holy Redeemer Parish to cancel the group's use of the hall on the parish grounds, once I became aware of it."
"In the year and a half since I arrived in San Francisco, there have been several instances of offensive attacks on Catholic faith and devotional life. Only two weeks ago Catholic San Francisco carried my remarks condemning the derisive use of the image of the Last Supper on a poster printed by another local group."
"Although I had often seen photographs of members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, I had never encountered them in person until October 7th. I did not recognize who these people were when they approached me."
"After the event, I realized that they were members of this particular organization and that giving them Holy Communion had been a mistake."
"I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so," Archbishop Niederauer writes.
"Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold sacred, they place themselves in an objective situation in which it is not appropriate for them to receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of the Church to give the Sacrament to them."
"Therefore I conclude that the presence of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October 7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that, as I have said, I must apologize," the Archbishop concludes.
Front Royal, Va., Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute has attacked the global abortion estimates of the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute as "simply bogus."
The Guttmacher Institute, which Mosher describes as the "research arm of Planned Parenthood," has published a report claiming a reduction in global abortions. It estimates worldwide abortion statistics to have declined from about 46 million in 1995 to under 42 million in 2003. It attributes this decline to an increase in countries that legalize abortion and more access to contraceptives.
Mosher criticized these estimates: "In actual fact, neither Guttmacher nor anyone else knows how many abortions have been performed worldwide in this year or any other year." He noted that abortion statistics were only reliable in a few developed countries. In other countries, he claimed, these numbers are "at best educated guesses." Mosher said any decline is not necessarily due to contraceptive access but rather due to government sterilization programs, especially in China and Vietnam. Some of these campaigns are known to be coercive.
In the report Dr. Sharon Camp, president and CEO of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, argued for legalizing abortion: "…we know that the crucial first step in making abortion safer is to legalize the procedure, ensuring that it is performed by skilled providers under the best possible conditions. It's high time for policymakers worldwide to renew their commitment to women's health by addressing these crucial issues."
To which Mosher responded: "Legalized abortion is never "safe" for the baby being aborted, of course. Neither is there any reason to assume that the legalization of abortion will instantly bring medical facilities up-to-date and start money pouring into rural clinics. Abortion, legal or not, is an invasive medical procedure with the potential for many complications and health risks."
Mosher also reported statistical manipulations in arguments for legalizing abortion. In Columbia, abortion advocates claimed anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 illegal abortions took place annually. According to Mosher, after Columbia's legalization of abortion the Columbian Vice-Minister of Health reported only fifty abortions in government clinics over the following year.
He accused abortion legalization advocates of "deliberately exaggerating the magnitude of the problem in order to create a 'health crisis' to justify legalizing abortion-on-demand."
Vatican City, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - More than 130 Muslim leaders, politicians, and scholars have addressed a letter to Pope Benedict XVI in an attempt to improve Christian-Muslim relations, BBC News reports.
The letter, titled "A Common Word Between Us and You," seeks to build on common ground shared between the two faiths. It compares texts from the Bible and the Koran to argue that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Both believe in "the primacy of total love and devotion to God," and both value love of neighbor and a peaceful world.
Christian and Muslims Are Indispensable for Peace
The letter stresses world peace as an especially important theme. Christians and Muslims comprise more than half of the world's population, which makes good relations between the two religions "the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world."
"As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes," the letter says.
The letter makes a special condemnation of violence: "To those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."
The Muslim leaders who signed the letter include the Grand Muftis of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Croatia, Kosovo and Syria, the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and the founder of the Ulema Organization in Iraq.
Letter is Historic
One of the signatories, Dr Aref Ali Nayed, a senior adviser at the Cambridge Inter-faith Programmed at Cambridge University, told the BBC the letter was representative of the Islamic world. "There are Sunnis, Shias, Ibadis and even the... Ismailian and Jaafari schools, so it's a consensus," he said.
The letter was released on the anniversary of another letter by Muslim clerics who wrote to the Pope after his remarks at Regensburg provoked controversy and violence. In the course of his speech about religion and reason, the Pope had quoted a medieval Byzantine text that depicted Islam as violent.
In a recent development, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue responded to the letter calling it “a very interesting letter," and indicating that it is "a new document because it comes from both Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims."
It is also "a non-polemical document with numerous quotes from both the Old Testament and the New Testament," he added.
Drawing upon the letter’s recommendations, Cardinal Tauran invited Christians and Muslims to to prevent the fusion of violence and religion by to share the three convictions contained in the letter: that God is One; that God loves us and we must love Him; that God calls us to love our neighbor.”
The prelate also noted that the letter is “a very encouraging sign because it shows that good will and dialogue are capable of overcoming prejudices, This is a spiritual approach to inter-religious dialogue which I would call dialogue of spirituality. Muslims and Christians must respond to one question: in your life, is God truly One?"
The letter was also sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox Patriarchs.
, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts has condemned the decision by the Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross to rent meeting space to a conference that includes Planned Parenthood and NARAL workshops. He has asked the college president, Father Michael C. McFarland, to cancel the event's reservations. The president's refusal could endanger the college's official Catholic standing.
The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy's Teen Pregnancy Institute is scheduled to use the college's conference facilities on October 24. Some of its speakers will discuss contraceptive methods and initiatives to provide teens access to such methods.
The chancery received hundreds of complaints from Catholics outraged about the college’s assistance given to the conference. The archbishop attacked the college's actions as "truly scandalous" for supporting "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil." He said that the college's apparent support for positions contrary to Catholic teaching was confusing and upsetting for the Catholic faithful.
He also clarified Catholic doctrine: "The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death. This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the Church's moral and social doctrine rests. It is beyond modification and compromise."
Holy Cross Won’t Cancel
Holy Cross officials have reported that they will not cancel the Teen Pregnancy Institute's meeting despite the many complaints. They claimed "Holy Cross in no way supports or endorses Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or other organizations that engage in or promote practices contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church."
President McFarland said that contractual obligations required permitting the conference to go ahead. He also defended accommodating the conference: "…the college believes a meeting of adult professionals pooling resources, engaging in a dialogue and exchanging information is a beneficial way of grappling with pressing issues related to the health and well-being of Massachusetts teenagers and children."
Bishop Considering Revoking Catholic Status
Bishop McManus responded by explaining his pastoral and canonical duties to determine what institutions can properly call themselves Catholic. He suggested that permitting the event could endanger the college's Catholic status: "It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church."
Washington D.C., Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - If the United States presidential race comes down to candidates Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, the Catholic vote will swing to Clinton. That's the claim of Steve Wagner, a chief political strategist who helped George W. Bush win the majority of Catholics' votes in the 2000 and 2004 elections. He has argued that appealing to Mass-going Catholics is a key factor in a presidential candidate's electoral success.
Deal W. Hudson, of InsideCatholic.com, interviewed Wagner on the prospects of a Giuliani-Clinton match-up and the probable behavior of Catholic voters. According to Hudson's report, Wagner believes Giuliani's candidacy will be hampered by the contradictions between his professed faith and his pro-choice stand: "Kerry was punished for being a pro-abortion Catholic. Giuliani is wise not to talk about being a Catholic, or he will suffer the same fate."
In the absence of a pro-life candidate, Wagner sees economic hardship as a winning issue for Democrats. The housing market, employment, and high gas prices are issues that could benefit Senator Hillary Clinton. "Her message of helping the poor and those in need, in spite of her pro-abortion position, will be quite potent to Catholics when the GOP has nothing else to offer."
Wagner does not view the Iraq War as a pivotal issue in Catholic voters' behavior. "The Catholic discontent with Bush and the Republican Party is not about Iraq, or he would have lost their vote in 2004. It's about their failure to deliver on the promises they made to address the moral decline of our society."
Republicans' ambiguity will prove harmful to their campaign, says Wagner: "It's hard to say what Republicans are about these days. The GOP does not have an issue identity that Catholics are interested in buying into."
Front Royal, Va., Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Father Thomas J. Euteneur, president of Human Life International, said Christian martyrdom will take on different forms in the future. Writing in a letter titled "Green Martyrdom," he suggested that Christian witness will not be a "red martyrdom" of blood but rather a "green martyrdom" of monetary sacrifice required by principled living.
He explained the subtle economic forces that can compromise the faithful: "even though many Catholics would undoubtedly give up their lives for Christ, people find it much harder to give up their jobs for Christ."
HLI’s president warned of pressures on health professionals to commit intrinsically evil acts in the course of their work, the difficulties of avoiding immoral practices institutionalized in some businesses, and the unjust stigma placed upon parents who criticize sex education in schools or have more children than average.
Father Euteneur saw this coercion acting even upon bishops. The Archdiocese of New York will face significant financial consequences if it avoids state legal requirements that health insurance cover employees' contraception. Defending the Catholic faith, he wrote, "will sometimes mean bleeding green in lawsuits, financial losses, firings and confiscations for the sake of the Kingdom."
But he says these dangers also offer the opportunity for heroic action: "The heroism of our modern-day martyrdom will be found in our willingness to sacrifice, even financially, to preserve the integrity of our values."
Washington D.C., Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington D.C. has recommended that the Catholic Church forcefully preach the pro-life message to presidential candidates rather than following Archbishop Burke’s suggestion of denying them Communion.
This comes after Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis stated that he would refuse communion to those in grave sin, especially political leaders, as it is the moral duty of the Eucharistic minister “to respect the holiness of the Sacrament, to safeguard the salvation of the soul of the party presenting himself to receive Holy Communion, and to avoid scandal.”
McCarrick disagreed, telling the AP, that while he “very much respect[s] his position,” he would rather work to persuade politicians to consider a pro-life view.
This isn’t the first time the cardinal and archbishop have disagreed over this issue. In 2004, two years before his retirement, then Archbishop McCarrick stated his opposition to pro-abortion politicians receiving communion, but that he would not be “comfortable” refusing them.
This caused Cardinal Ratzinger to weigh in on the issue, who cited the Catholic Church’s Canon Law number 915 that says, “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
McCarrick also commented on the leading candidates for the major parties, particularly noting that no candidate falls completely in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Catholics are left to their own consciences to make the right choice, and while abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty are important teachings, they do not encompass all Catholic beliefs.
"You cannot be authentically Catholic if you do not support life, yet it is not enough just to support life, you have to go beyond that," Cardinal McCarrick said. "To really be authentically Catholic, you need it and the family rights, the right to education, the right to take care of the poor, the right of migrants."
McCarrick, 77, stepped down from the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. last year, but he is still active in promoting certain church issues and as a member of the College of Cardinals.
Rome, Italy, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - The delegation of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has walked out of a joint session of Catholic and Orthodox theologians over internal disagreements in the Orthodox community.
The Russian Orthodox delegation refused to participate in the dialogue sessions after learning that a representative from the Estonian Apostolic Church would be included in the ecumenical talks that were to be held in Ravenna, Italy.
The Russian Orthodox Church disputes a decision by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to grant canonical status to the Estonian Apostolic Church, which the Russian Patriarch claims is under his authority.
Orthodox Archbishop Illarion of Vienna, who led the Russian delegation, said the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize the legitimacy of the Estonian Apostolic Church created by Constantinople and conditioned his delegation’s participation in the talks on the exclusion of the Estonian delegation.
Baghdad, Iraq, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Father Rayan Atto, pastor of the Chaldean Catholic parish of Mar Qardagh in Erbil, announced this week a new website has been launched in memory of Father Ragheed Ganni, a Chaldean priest who, together with three deacons, was brutally killed in Iraq last June together by Muslim extremists.
According to the website Baghdadhope, the initiative has the support of Bishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul. “It will be a website dedicated to collecting the written memories of those who knew Father Ganni while he was alive, those who walked with him spiritually or those remember him and want to share them with those who loved him,” Father Atto said.
He explained that the content for the site would come from material that “underscores the character of Father Ganni, his communion with God and His sons and daughters. The memories that people have of him as a man, a seminarian and a priest.”
“The world needs to know the story of Father Ganni through the website and the book that will be published with information from site,” he continued.
Likewise, Father Atto explained that those who wish to can send the information they have on Father Ganni either in “Arabic, English or Italian,” as the book, “which will be published by the Chaldean Church in Mar Qardagh, will be in English and Italian, and a translation will also be made into Arabic.”
Anyone who has pictures of Father Ganni can also send them to the webmaster. More information can be found at: http://www.baghdadhope.blogspot.com/
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo announced this week he has received guarantees from lawmakers that abortion will not be legalized in the country.
Cardinal Rodriguez threw his support behind a move by the National Congress to keep abortion illegal and said the decision “shows that the conviction that only God can dispose of human life exists in our lawmakers.”
“The fact that our legislative houses are not legalizing abortion means that in many of these men and women in Congress there is a clear conscience that human life is sacred and that only God can dispose of it,” the cardinal said.
He disclosed that during a meeting with Congressman Julio Horton, president of the Committee of Justice of the lower house, he was assured that the legalization of abortion would not be approved.
“We have the position that the legalization of abortion cannot pass in the House of Representatives and that is how most lawmakers have understood it,” Congressman Horton said.
The cardinal announced that senators have also assured him that they will not approve it.
La Paz, Bolivia, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - The vice president and the general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, Bishop Edmundo Abastoflor and Bishop Jesus Juarez, have asked President Evo Morales not to follow in the steps of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela because that would not lead to authentic development in Bolivia.
According to local media, Bishop Abastoflor warned that if Bolivia follows “a Venezuelan-style democracy we are going down a bad path, and we are going to find ourselves facing a wall that will perhaps bring more confrontation than advances.”
His comments came after Bishop Juarez recently called on Morales not “to imitate or adore foreign democracies like that of Venezuela” or revere “someone who comes to offer us things that will not lead to authentic development.”
The comments by both bishops come as the Bolivian government is increasingly criticized for being influenced by Chavez and the country celebrates the 25th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Bolivia.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Doctor Juan Baltar, who is the physician for Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, said this week the cardinal is in “delicate” health and “critical condition” but that despite suffering from a serious illness “we still are hopeful he can improve.”
The cardinal is “seriously ill and in critical condition,” Dr.Baltar said, and “anyone who is critically ill can take a turn for worse at any moment; however, that is not what we expect at this time, nothing is imminent. This is a very sick person who still has hope,” he told a local radio station.
“Although the illness may be serious and the prognosis may be quite reserved, there is still hope. His condition is not yet irreversible,” the doctor said.
Vatican City, Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father has written a letter to Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, for the occasion of the designation of the archdiocese of Mexico as the location of the 6th World Meeting of Families, which is due to take place from January 16 to 18, 2009. Pope Benedict gave the cardinal his insight into the theme of the gathering: "The family, educator in human and Christian values."
"As the first school of life and of faith, and as a 'domestic church'," writes the Pope in his letter, "the family is called to educate new generations in human and Christian values so as to forge in them - guiding their lives according to the model of Christ - a well-balanced personality. In such a vital task ... it is important to have the support of the school, of the parish and of the various ecclesial groups that favor the integral education of human beings."
"At a time in which there is often an apparent disassociation between what people claim to believe and the way they live and behave, this forthcoming World Meeting of Families aims to encourage Christian homes in the formation of an upright moral conscience."
The Pope concluded by praying, "I ask the Lord that the period of preparation and the celebration of this event ... may be for families ... a special occasion joyfully to experience their vocation and mission."
Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 12, 2007 (CNA) - Most Rev. David A. Zubik, bishop of Pittsburgh, will deliver opening remarks and the invocation at the Celebrate Life Banquet November 3rd at the Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh Green Tree.
The banquet is part of the 2007 Pennsylvania Pro-Life Conference, the statewide event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Education Fund.
Bishop Zubik, who serves as Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a dedicated spokesman for the pro-life cause and an energetic advocate for the most vulnerable members of our society, including unborn children and their mothers.
Bishop Zubik will be joined at the banquet by Christian singer and abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. Jessen miraculously survived a doctor's attempt to abort her when she was an unborn baby. She has since gained fame as a Christian singer and a powerful speaker on behalf of the sanctity of human life.
In testimony before Congress, Jessen said, "I am happy to be alive. I almost died. Everyday I thank God for life. I do not consider myself a by-product of conception, a clump of tissue, or any other of the titles given to a child in the womb. I do not consider any person conceived to be any of those things."
The conference will also feature a talk by Michael Clancy, the photojournalist who captured the famous "Baby Samuel" picture showing an unborn baby reaching out from his mother's womb. In addition, Dr. James Rossetti will explain some of the medical miracles attributed to adult stem cell research, which is considered an ethical alternative to anti-life embryonic stem cell research. Other sessions include presentations on the "life" issues affecting members of Generation Y and the untold story of the post-abortive woman.
The registration deadline for the conference is October 19th. To register for the conference, visit www.paprolife.org or call the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation at 717-541-0034.