San Francisco, Calif., Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop George Niederauer recently made a public apology for giving Holy Communion to two so-called "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," a transvestite homosexual group that mockingly dresses as nuns. He mistakenly gave Communion to some members of the group at a Mass the he celebrated at Most Holy Redeemer church in San Francisco.
Despite the archbishop's regrets over the event, the Most Holy Redeemer parish bulletin published an e-mail from one "sister" in its most recent bulletin thanking the parish for the Mass. "Sister Delta Goodhand" wrote: "Your entire congregation was so welcoming and it was great to be able to participate in the Mass. The service was absolutely beautiful and I know that I personally walked away very inspired by both the Archbishop’s message and the angelic voices of your choir ringing in my ears! Amazing!"
The mock-nun also claimed a parishioner offered his group pins that read “MHRC: An Inclusive Catholic Church.”
In his apology, Archbishop Niederauer condemned the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence." "The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries,” said the archbishop. “The citizens of San Francisco have ample reason to be grateful to women religious for their unfailing support of those most in need, and to be deeply offended when that service is belittled so outrageously and offensively.”
Tucson, Ariz., Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - On a sunny and breezy Sunday afternoon, St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson was filled to capacity Sept. 23 as parishioners from throughout the Diocese joyfully joined with Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas to renew their marriage vows in an inaugural annual “Celebration of Marriage Mass.”
Some 200 couples from at least 38 parishes, accompanied by members of their extended families, represented a combined 9,276 years of married life.
“Today is a special day for each one of you,” the Bishop said. “…I’m sure as you think today, in those…years, there were moments that were difficult, painful, when you had to forgive one another…but that’s what love is reall y all about.”
Celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary were 92 couples, and one couple - Carl and Marie Stapleman of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson - was observing 70 years of marriage.
Carl Stapleman said he was “just 21” when he married Marie, who said she was 19.
“Today you are celebrating your anniversaries…what a time of joy it is,” Bishop Kicanas told the gathering.
Each of the couples was presented a long-stemmed rose as they entered the Cathedral for the ceremony, which ended with Bishop Kicanas personally greeting each couple, being photographed with them and handing them a souvenir gift.
Then the gathering moved outside onto the cathedral veranda to enjoy wedding cake and beverages - and to take pictures to memorialize the occasion.
Bishop Kicanas praised the couples and led them in repeating their marriage vows, a moment that brought tears to the eyes of many of the participants.
“Happy the husband of a good wife,” said the Bishop in his homily. “She brings joy to her husband. Be he rich or poor, his heart is content, a smile is ever on his face.”
Bishop Kicanas said later that the couples in attendance at the cathedral “stand as an inspiration to all married couples striving to grow in respect, trust, forgiveness and love for one another.”
Marriage, the Bishop said, “is an institution that today is under much stress.”
The idea for an annual diocesan event to honor couples celebrating 25 and 50-plus years of marriage emerged early this year after Bishop Kicanas heard from Catholics that the Church and the Diocese needed to do more to support the institution of marriage.
Just the evening before the Cathedral ceremony, Bishop Kicanas attended a portion of the Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat in Tucson where 40 couples were preparing for marriage.
“I heard them share some anxiety and trepidation as they anticipate promising their love to one another for life,” he said. “I wish they could have been present at the Cathedral...to see that people can stay deeply in love over many years of life together.”
To hear Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas’ Celebration of Marriage welcome and homily, click here.
The original story can be found on The New Vision, Diocese of Tucson website.
, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - The University of Notre Dame has sent six young teachers to work in Catholic schools in Mobile as part of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. Now in its fourteenth year, the ACE program matches recent college graduates with Catholic schools in need. The benefit to the schools is the presence of enthusiastic, energetic, young teachers who serve as extraordinary role models for their students. In many ways, ACE placement is considered a term of service, and the teachers are given only a modest stipend for their work. They live in community and share in a common prayer life.
The ACE program has grown in scope and number through the years. What began as a fledgling experiment in a handful of schools has become a gift to thirty-two Catholic communities reaching from North Carolina to California. There are nearly 200 teachers in the program this year.
ACE teachers are not only teachers, but students as well. In addition to two years of classroom placement in the schools where they work, they spend two summers on the campus of Notre Dame, completing work to earn a Master of Education degree. When asked about the work required of them, one student commented that it is hard to say which is more demanding, their time teaching or the rigorous demands of the master’s program. But there is no equivocation about the end result. The sense of pride in their gift of service is a comfortable balance for the pride in the achievement of the master’s degree.
Four Catholic schools in Mobile are the current beneficiaries of ACE. Most Pure Heart of Mary and McGill-Toolen Catholic High each have two ACE teachers this year. Little Flower and St. Pius X each have one ACE teacher. Every ACE teacher has a local mentor to help them through the year, and each school provides support and encouragement to the young teachers who are far from home. This year, ACE Mobile has teachers from as far away as Michigan, Washington State, and even Australia.
In addition to the ACE teachers serving in Mobile, a local Mobile couple, Dr. and Mrs. Dick Duffey, are proud parents of an ACE graduate, and a current ACE teacher serving in Fort Worth, Texas.
The original story can be found in The Catholic Week of Mobile, Alabama.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - Tonight 854 million people will go to bed with an empty stomach even though enough food was produced to feed everyone. Aware of this sad reality, Pope Benedict XVI marked today’s World Food Day by urging all countries to recognize food as a universal human right.
In his message, the Pope noted that the right to food was enshrined in the Universal of Declaration of Human Rights, a document adopted by the United Nations in 1948.
Yet, Benedict challenged, the international community to face up to one of the most serious challenges of our time: freeing from hunger millions of human beings, whose lives are in danger because of a lack of daily bread."
Despite food being made a right, all of the efforts made so far to guarantee the right to food throughout the world had failed to significantly reduce the number of hungry, Benedict said.
"A sense of solidarity, in which food is considered a universal right without distinction or discrimination, must develop in all the countries of the world," the pontiff said.
He noted that the main causes of food shortages could be traced back to "human behaviour", such as wars and "a general economic and social deterioration".
Benedict's message was read out during World Food Day celebrations held at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ANSA reported.
The Director General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, noted in his message that progress has been made in alleviating hunger since it was made a right in 1948, but that the scale of the problem is still enormous.
"Our planet produced enough food to feed its entire population, and yet tonight 854 million people will go to bed with an empty stomach," he said.
FAO has been working with governments and NGOs to promote a set of guidelines aimed at helping policymakers ensure respect for the right to food.
World Food Day is commemorated annually in 150 countries. Highlights of this year's events include a worldwide candlelight vigil starting in the southwest Pacific and moving around the globe.
On the occasion of World Food Day 2007, universities in Italy, Ireland and Iran are establishing institutes or launching university courses on the right to food.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - A recently rediscovered document has shed new light on the trial and suppression of the legendary Knights Templar. CNA previously reported that the document would be published, but now more details have become available.
The Knights Templar were a military order formed during the early Crusades to protect Christians in the Holy Land. They became very wealthy, owning property all over Europe and the Middle East. They even began an early international banking system.
In the early fourteenth century the French King Phillip IV ordered the Grand Master of the Order and other knights burned after the order was accused of heresy, blasphemy, and sexual misconduct. Various legends have accrued to their reputation, including the most recent claim that the knights possessed the Holy Grail.
The rediscovered document, known as the Chinon parchment, is an original account in Latin of the investigation and trial of the Knights Templar. The investigation took place in Rome between 1307 and 1312. According to the document, Pope Clement V exonerated the Templars on the charge of heresy, but found them guilty of other infractions. He also ordered the Knights Templar to disband.
The Chinon parchment was lost for centuries after a cataloguing error. It was rediscovered five years ago by Barbara Frale, a historian who works in the Vatican Library's Secret Archives.
The new book’s publisher, Scrinium, has already published two other digitally mastered and hand-finished collections of color reproductions of precious documents from the Secret Archives.
The document is 20 inches wide by six and a half feet long - the size of a small dining table.
The parchment is being reproduced for academic libraries. Copies will be printed on synthetic parchment and packaged in a soft leather case with a reproduction of the original papal wax seal. Each of the eight hundred copies will cost $8,000. Seven hundred and ninety nine copies will be available for sale and the final copy will be presented to Pope Benedict.
Sacramento, Calif., Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill requiring all California public schools to positively portray homosexuality to children as young as kindergarten.
The bill from the California Legislature, Senate Bill 777, forbids any instruction or school-sponsored activity that "promotes a discriminatory bias" against gender and sexual orientation.
The bill's critics believe that since no current instruction disparages sexual orientation, the absence of such topics from school textbooks and instruction will be considered to be biased. Positive portrayals of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexualism, they believe, will therefore be required.
Any schools violating the law will be subject to lawsuits from the State Department of Education.
Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, led the opposition to this bill. He predicts the bill would require changing commonplace presentations in school materials and activities. Textbooks could be forbidden from portraying marriage as only between a man and a woman; textbooks could be required to present homosexual historical figures; and sex-specific Homecoming King and Queen contests could be forced to change. The legislation might even mandate unisex restrooms.
Mr. Thomasson attacked the California legislation. “Shame on Schwarzenegger and the Democrat politicians for ensuring that every California school becomes a homosexual-bisexual-transsexual indoctrination center," he said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - The 22nd annual National Encounter of Women held in Cordoba, Argentina, became a platform for launching attacks against Catholic women who participated in the event. Numerous women were physically assaulted by feminist groups whose purpose in attending was to promote abortion and gender ideology.
Emilio Nazar of the NOVA news agency reported that according to women present at the event, “violence has been the mark of the event’s two days. Attempts were made to forcefully expel Catholic women, and at workshops held below ground where there were few exits, women were hit on their shoulders, backs and legs.”
Nazar said the event, whose attendees were overwhelmingly in favor of abortion, was marked by blatant attacks against the faith and against anyone who voiced an opinion contrary to the feminist agenda.
“The women discussed the issue of discrimination and violence by men against women, but never did they discuss the violence of women against women. And such was the case at the event’s very workshops,” Nazar stated.
Catholic women at the event could only resort to calling security on their cell phones, he went on. “…[T]his is a women’s encounter, but that does not mean a ‘liberated zone’ where women cannot commit crimes against others. This is neither democratic, nor pluralistic, nor tolerable,” he emphasized.
On the last day of the event, feminists attempted to march to the Cathedral of Cordoba to vandalize the church with pro-abortion graffiti. While they were prevented from reaching the church, several businesses along the way were damaged.
While the encounter was billed as an opportunity to discuss poverty, education, unions, globalization, external debt, and social and religious problems, the workshops were predominantly about abortion and homosexuality.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - The leader of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, Archbishop Bernard Fellay, has formed a theological commission to study the Second Vatican Council.
The members of the commission include Patrick de La Rocque, Grégoire Célier, Thierry Gaudray, Alvaro Calderón and Jean-Michel Gleize.
According to the Lefebvrist website Le Foum Catholique, the announcement confirms reports from the Fraternity about doctrinal discussions held at the University of Rome, which were attended by Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier, theologian of the papal household.
Jean-Michel Gleize is professor at the Lefebvrist’s Econe international seminary and author of the book, Le Successeur de Pierre (The Successor of Peter). Patrick de La Rocque directs the priory of Gragnague in Haute-Garonne and is editor of Problème de la réforme liturgique (The Problem with Liturgical Reform) and of De l'œcuménisme à l'apostasie silencieuse, vingt-cinq ans de pontificat (From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy: 25 years of Pontificate).
Austin, Texas, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - In Austin, Texas Bishop Gregory Aymond has objected to a planned lecture at St. Edward's University to be given by a priest who has previously been disciplined for dissent from Catholic teaching, the Associated Press reports.
The university invited Father Charles Curran, a professor of theology and ethics at Southern Methodist University, to lecture on Blessed Pope John XXIII.
The priest is controversial because in the 1960s he publicly dissented from Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, which upheld Catholic teaching forbidding artificial birth control. He has since questioned church teaching on homosexuality, premarital sex, euthanasia, and in-vitro fertilization.
In 1986 Pope John Paul II removed him from his teaching position at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Fr. Curran has also been prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools or to calling himself a Catholic theologian.
Bishop Aymond explained his objections: "I believe that it does not foster the Catholic identity of a university to present him as a guest lecturer." He also emphasized the duties of Catholic professors, saying "theologians and teachers, whether they are clergy religious or lay, are empowered to teach the church's teaching and not their own opinion."
Whether or not the university accepts his offer, the bishop expressed a desire to work with the university in its selection of future guest lecturers.
The university reportedly explained Curran's dissent in its publicity for the event. According to LifeSiteNews.com, biographical information delivered to students identified Curran as a 'dissident theologian' and explained his removal from Catholic University and the controversy surrounding him.
Father Curran believed the bishop's attention was unlikely to hurt attendance at his lecture. "If you condemn a movie, you're going to get more people to go see it," he said.
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy See's Congregation for Saints is considering the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman after indications he may have worked his first miracle, the Telegraph reports.
Cardinal Newman was a nineteenth-century British theologian and a high-profile convert from Anglicanism. His writings on the development of Christian doctrine are said to have influenced the Second Vatican Council.
A 69 year-old American was inexplicably cured of a crippling back condition after praying to the cardinal. Deacon Jack Sullivan from Massachusetts was "bent double" by his condition, but was able to "walk about straight" after petitioning Cardinal Newman for assistance. Officials from the Archdiocese of Boston investigated the cure and concluded it was genuine.
The Congregation for Saints must still approve the case. If the Pope then gives his assent, Cardinal Newman could be beatified by the end of next year. After beatification, Cardinal Newman will be honored with the title "Blessed."
One Vatican source said: "The approval of the miracle is expected to be the last significant hurdle. The congregation's experts are well advanced in their work, and all the signs look positive. We could even have a decision by Christmas."
Peter Jennings, the spokesman for the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory, which was founded by Newman in 1848, expressed his hopes for a beatification: "The Catholic Church has gone through a very difficult period in the last few years and this would be a tremendous morale boost."
If Cardinal Newman is beatified, he will need one more miracle to be canonized and acknowledged as a saint.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - The Uruguayan Senate is set to vote today on a bill that in practice would legalize abortion on demand in the country. Slipping under the radar screen of the media, the bill’s sponsors introduced the measure last Friday, as the country moved into a three-day weekend.
Analysts told CNA said the strategy to take advantage of a lack of coverage over the long weekend was similar to another effort to legalize abortion in May of 2004, when the measure was defeated by a vote of 17 to 13.
The new bill would legalize abortion during the first trimester and allow for abortion at any time in cases of life and health of the mother. Health is defined as “the general state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of illness or ailments,” which in practice would mean legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, as in other countries. The law would also allow minors to obtain abortions without parental consent.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Monica Xavier of the Socialist Party, said the measure links abortion to “aspects related to sexuality and reproduction,” bypassing a “black and white debate” on the issue.
Uruguayan president Tabare Vasquez has promised to veto any bill that would legalize abortion, which pro-lifers say provides at least some hope that the measure will not pass at least until after the next elections.
Rome, Italy, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - In an interview with the Italian daily “La Repubblica,” Cardinal Julian Herranz, president emeritus of the Commission for Legislative Texts of the Holy See, said in response to news of a Vatican official suspended over accusations of homosexual activity that the Vatican is the first to want a “profound internal cleansing.”
“We are the first to want an internal cleansing, but that cleansing will be done with respect for human rights and after the ruling of judicial authorities,” he said.
Cardinal Herranz noted that Msgr. Tommaso Stenico, the priest involved in the scandal that rocked the Vatican this past weekend “has been immediately suspended from his position while he awaits a verdict from the Tribunal.”
Despite the evidence from the program “Exit” which showed him making homosexual advances towards another man, Msgr. Stenico says he is innocent and that he was pretending to be gay in order to discover “the true enemies within the Church.”
According to Cardinal Herranz, the tribunal charged with Stenico’s case “will have to work calmly and avoid the hysteria created by the media.” He noted that sexual misconduct carries with it “severe penalties such as reduction to the lay state.”
“When these things happen, the Church is saddened,” the cardinal said. “But these cases are the exception and they do not affect the entire community because in the Church and at the Holy See there are many serious people strongly dedicated to serving the Pope with seriousness and determination.”
Krakow, Poland, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - An interesting photograph emerged on the Vatican’s television station on Monday. The picture claims to show the shape of Pope John Paul II in the flames of a bonfire built at a memorial service on the occasion of the second anniversary of his death.
The service was held near the late Pope's birthplace in Poland this past April, two years to the day after John Paul died. The memorial event took place at Beskid Zywiecki - near the Holy Father's birthplace in Wadowice, southern Poland.
Hundreds attended the ceremony and photographer Gregorz Lukasik captured the image on his camera.
The photo appears to show the pontiff with his right hand raised in a blessing of those present.
Pictures from the event were sent to Vatican News Service director Father Jarek Cielecki, a Polish priest and close friend of the late Pope, by the photographer. Upon making their debut yesterday, the pictures were broadcast continuously on Italian TV.
Mr. Lukasik said: "I showed the pictures to my brother and sister and they, like me, were convinced that the flames had formed the image of Pope John Paul II.
"I was so happy with the picture, I showed it to our local bishop who said that Pope John Paul had made many pilgrimages during his life and he was still making them in death."
Father Cielecki commented on the picture: "You can see the image of a person in the flames and I think it is the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II."
Vatican City, Oct 16, 2007 (CNA) - Sources at the Vatican have informed CNA that Pope Benedict XVI will announce during tomorrow’s General Audience that he will convene a consistory to create new cardinals in November.
Currently there are 105 cardinals under the age of 80 that are a part of the College of Cardinals, which leaves 15 vacancies to reach the normal total of 120. This month the former Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano and the American cardinal Edmund Szoka will both turn 80, bringing the total number of open spots to 17.
The candidates considered likely to receive the red hat are the Archbishops of Sao Paulo, Odilo Scherer; París, André Vingt-Trois; Washington DC, Donald William Wuerl; Warsaw, Kazimierz Nycz; and of Genoa, the current president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference—Angelo Bagnasco.
According to traditional Vatican practice, the Prefect for the Congregation of Eastern Churches, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri; the Archpriest of Saint Peter’s Basilica, Angelo Comastri; the Governor of Vatican City, Giovanni Lajolo; and the head of the Vatican Library, Raffaele Farina should also be made cardinals.
In addition, Archbishop John Patrick Foley, the Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is expected to be raised to the level of cardinal in keeping with tradition.
The Italian daily Il Messaggero, also believes that the Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the German Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, the President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, will make the Holy Father’s list.