Vatican City, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - The academic year began yesterday with Pope Benedict celebrating a Mass for the dozen or so Roman Pontifical Universities. The pontiff’s message to the students gathered for the liturgy was that our post-modern age needs a new evangelization and masters of the faith. He called on them to use their time in Rome to prepare for that mission.
Benedict XVI told the students that in our time it is more pressing than ever to consider the "new problems" of our modern age in the light of Christian revelation and to present truth "in a manner adapted to various cultures.” To accomplish this, the Pope said, “the need is felt for a new evangelization, and which needs masters of faith and appropriately-trained heralds and witnesses of the Gospel."
"The time you spend in Rome can and must serve to prepare you to undertake ... the task that awaits you in the various fields of apostolic activity,” the Holy Father said.
“In our own time, the Church's evangelizing mission requires, not only that the Gospel message be spread everywhere, but that it penetrate deeply into the way people think, into their criteria of judgment and their behavior. In a word," he concluded, "all the culture of modern man must be permeated by the Gospel."
The Pope also reminded the students that Rome is a city "rich in historical memories, in masterpieces of art and culture, and above all in eloquent Christian testimony.” He counseled them to let this Christian culture form them so that they will be prepared to give witness to the Gospel.
Denver, Colo., Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - On October 24, pro-life activists met with the heads of the Weitz Company to discuss the new Planned Parenthood abortion facility that the company is contracted to build in Denver, Colorado.
In a surprising allegiance to the abortion industry, Bill Hornaday, President of The Weitz Company Rocky Mountain, has refused to reconsider building the largest abortion facility in the United States.
In the private meeting, Hornaday indicated that money is not the prime motivator for building the new Planned Parenthood.
"The ideals of The Weitz Company are worse than we thought," said Keith Mason, of the Keep Peace in Stapleton Project. "If they are not building this superstructure for money, are they building it out of a desire to facilitate the murder of innocent children?"
Gary Meggison, Senior Vice President of The Weitz Company Rocky Mountain, is a member of the Catholic Church while neighbors of Vice President Don Gendall claim that he is a "strong Christian".
"The bottom line is that followers of Christ would not be a part of this heinous business," continued Mason. "A true Christian would do what is necessary to save the lives of innocent children."
The brief meeting, attended also by Senior Vice President Gary Meggison, revealed an obvious disdain for women and children. Meggison not only refused to view documents of Planned Parenthood's reported child rape cover-ups (under investigation by Kansas' and Indiana's attorneys general), but also the facts of their multi-million dollar baby killing business.
"We are continuing to keep these executives in our prayers, in hope that they will not build this modern- day Auschwitz. We must pray that they do the right thing," Keith Mason, Keep Peace in Stapleton.
Washington D.C., Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who sought the Republican presidential nomination on a socially conservative platform, is considering supporting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's candidacy. He met with the former mayor on Thursday to discuss his position on abortion.
“I’m going to meet with him and I’m going to talk to him and hear what he is specifically saying now because he’s changed on a number of the abortion issues,” Brownback said in an interview with The Hill. “He’s changed on partial-birth [abortion] and he … has said he would appoint strict constructionists” to the Supreme Court.
Giuliani’s Pro-Abortion Credentials
Many social conservatives consider Giuliani to be a very weak candidate. They cite his pro-abortion positions and connections, which include support for federal funding of abortions, making abortion available at any stage of pregnancy, support for partial-birth abortion and receiving several donations from Planned Parenthood. Giuliani’s approval of homosexuality is another reason that he is seen as an unfit candidate for the Republican nomination by many.
Elizabeth Shipp of NARAL Pro-Choice America told The Huffington Post in an Oct. 10 story that “it ‘would help’ the abortion rights movement if Giuliani proves it's possible a pro-choice candidate can win the Republican nomination and the presidency.”
Federal tax returns made public by the former New York mayor also show that he and his then-wife, Donna Hanover, made personal donations to national, state and city chapters of Planned Parenthood totaling $900 in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999.
Some political strategists consider a Brownback endorsement as a “back door” way for Giuliani to gain supporters from the conservative Brownback base. Before dropping out of the race, Brownback had over 45,000 registered supporters in the key election state of Iowa.
Sources familiar with Brownback’s campaigning in Iowa have told CNA that he has strong support among conservative Catholics as well, much of it organized through the group "Catholics for Brownback." The group claims hundreds of Iowan Catholics at the grassroots level who were willing to campaign for the former candidate because of his supposedly strong pro-life stance.
According to Jay Heine, Brownback's political director in Iowa, an endorsement could happen because Brownback and many of his supporters believe Giuliani has the best chance of defeating Senator Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee.
The possibility that Brownback is likely to endorse Giuliani has left “Iowa moms and Catholics outraged," according to a Catholics for Brownback source who contacted CNA.
Speaking of the potential Brownback endorsement, Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University said, “It would be absolutely huge. It would mean that Giuliani is getting support from a part of the Republican Party that has been hostile to him."
“Brownback is very well-respected,” he added. “It would give a lot of social conservatives and evangelicals cover if they want to support Giuliani.”
Others were not enthusiastic about the possible endorsement. Kim Lehman, president of Iowa Right to Life Committee and a member of the Iowans for Brownback Leadership Committee, said she would be stunned if Brownback supported Giuliani.
“I find it simply hard to believe because Giuliani has expressed his position to even pay for abortion,” she said.
However, after meeting with Giuliani, Brownback seemed to have changed his tune to the dismay of his Catholic supporters. “While he didn't endorse the ex-mayor, he praised him as an "excellent leader" and said he was "much more comfortable" with Giuliani's views on abortion and gay rights issues after the meeting,” according to the Washington Post.
Asked by reporters in a brief press conference after the meeting with Giuliani if he could support a "pro-choice" nominee, Brownback said "I don't know that he described himself...as a pro-choice candidate" and then said he wanted to let Giuliani explains his own view.
Brownback has not yet endorsed Giuliani, but a source from the senator's campaign team has said that the senator will decide which candidate to endorse within the next month.
Alexandria, Va., Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - "Catholic Charities USA applauds Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle who came together to craft compromise legislation to reauthorize SCHIP," said Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. The legislation-which modifies a bill vetoed by the President earlier this month-would still provide quality and affordable health care to nearly 10 million of the neediest children in our nation.
Renewing this vital program will provide health access to four million more uninsured children. It also ensures that the 6 million children who are currently depending on SCHIP for medications and necessary medical procedures will continue being covered.
"The successful vote for the bipartisan compromise is not only a stand for low-income children, it is a stand for the future strength of our community, our country, and the common good. The House vote today shows the leadership necessary to protect vulnerable, low-income children in our country, said Father Snyder.
The new bill will still provide $35 billion over five years to keep children already receiving health care coverage, and provide insurance to nearly four million more children whose health is at risk due to lack of proper health coverage. Additionally, the bill addresses some concerns over the previous legislation by clarifying who is eligible for health care and focusing on low-income children. The bill outlines a future maximum eligibility at 300 percent of the federal poverty level, while still preserving existing eligibility levels for any states that have been previously approved to expand its program.
"Catholic Charities USA urges the Senate and our President to support our nation's children and approve this bill," said Father Snyder.
Improving public policies that promote the health of children in the United States is a key component of Catholic Charities USA's Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America, which aims to cut poverty in half by 2020.
Sydney, Australia, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI's call for a New Pentecost at World Youth Day was featured in remarks made by Bishop Julian Porteous, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, The Catholic Weekly reports.
Bishop Porteous spoke in a homily at a Mass marking the visit of a delegation from the Pontifical Council on the Laity.
Echoing Pope Benedict, he exhorted event planners to take to heart the theme of World Youth Day, the Bible verse Acts 1:8, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses."
"The Pope wants us to focus particularly on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives," the bishop said. "He wants WYD to be a 'New Pentecost' for Australia."
Bishop Porteous cited Pope Benedict XVI's speech on July 4.
"World Youth Day is much more than an event. It is a time of deep spiritual renewal, the fruits of which benefit the whole of society," the Pope said. "Together we shall invoke the Holy Spirit, confidently asking God for the gift of a New Pentecost for the Church and for humanity in the third millennium."
Bishop Porteous expressed his great hope for World Youth Day. "All the signs are there for a wonderful event," he said.
Rome, Italy, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, said during an interview with Vatican Radio that the proposed creation of a “United Nations of religions” to promote dialogue for peace makes no sense.
“Now there are just as many possibilities as there are creeds for achieving peace,” the cardinal stated. “Personally, my first reaction is not one of enthusiasm,” he said about proposal launched by a group of participants at the Ecumenical Meeting for Peace which ended this week in Naples.
“On the one hand we have diplomacy, with its techniques, and on the other, religions with prayer. Prayer is the language of religion, and therefore, before thinking about a great UN of the religions, men of religion must instruct their faithful in the prayer for peace and their young people to listen to others and to their convictions,” Cardinal Tauran explained.
He stressed that there is “always a need for dialogue and talking,” but each conversation must take place in its own context and form.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - The vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Roberto Luckert, has called on the leader of the National Assembly, Cilia Flores, to clarify what the definition of the State and the government is according to Chavez's proposed constitutional reform. If the two concepts are confused, the archbishop said, “then we are dealing with a Caribbean version of the French sun king (Louis XIV), in which the State was the king. Likewise, in this reform it would seem the State is Hugo Chavez.”
Archbishop Luckert said the Chavez reforms would make Venezuela a Socialist state, in contrast to the federal and democratic state established by the previous constitution. He warned that the model for this new state is Cuba, but he said Venezuelans would not allow themselves “to be trampled like Cuba was, because they came out of the Batista dictatorship only to fall into Fidel’s. We still have a little bit of freedom to discern, to choose a different Venezuela because we do want a different one, but one that is under democracy and not repression,” he said.
The archbishop said Venezuelans should learn from the example of Cuba, which he called “a failed island” which young people seek to escape from, “because they are not happy with that system and the repressive oppression of that nation.”
Dublin, Ireland, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Three Church of Ireland parishes have asked to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, The Irish Catholic newspaper reports this week. The decision would pave the way for over 400,000 Anglicans to become Catholic.
The parishes, located in the counties Down, Tyrone and Laois, are members of the traditional rite of the Church of Ireland. The rite emerged in 1991 after the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland decided to start ordaining women. Traditionalist Anglicans rejected this decision as a "defiance of both Scripture and Tradition."
A plenary meeting of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the umbrella organization for traditionalist parishes, decided to petition Rome to be received into full communion with the Holy See. While only a few hundred Anglicans in Ireland will be affected if an agreement is reached, the Traditional Anglican Communion itself has over 400,000 members who could all join the Catholic Church.
According to a statement from the Traditional Anglican Communion, "the bishops and vicars-general unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union."
A spokesman said "the letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."
"The Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded," he said.
This petition for corporate communion is very rare, though there have been many individual conversions. Recently the wife of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Killala, Anita Henderson, was received into the Catholic Church in a private ceremony.
In cases of American Protestant ministers converting to Catholicism, a "pastoral provision" allows some married ministers to be ordained as priests. "Anglican Use" Catholic Parishes also use a liturgy similar to that of Anglican Christians. It is not yet clear what accommodations may be made for Traditional Anglican Communion parishes.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, responded to criticism by radical feminists this week who accused him of pressuring the country’s legislature not to legalize abortion, saying these groups do not represent the interests of women.
“Women have always had all of my respect,” the cardinal said, “but I have never agreed, nor will I ever agree, with feminists of the bad kind, who are given over to everything except helping women.”
According to the cardinal, feminists, together with the United Nations, are the ones pressuring the governments of the world to legalize abortion.
Feminist groups, he explained, do not fight for the dignity of women, but rather they bring women down with the help of some sectors of society. “Only an imbecile, a moron, someone ignorant of everything, could defend that position,” he said.
, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Fishers of Men, a DVD created to inspire vocations to the priesthood, has been awarded the Gabriel Award for its quality depiction of the priestly life.
The fast-paced video shows many facets of priestly service through the personal testimony of active priests. It also features a dramatic re-enactment that suggests how a priest can inspire vocations. It is intended to renew priests' sense of fulfillment in their vocation while inviting other men to consider the priesthood.
The place of priests in seminarian recruitment is vital. Eighty percent of newly ordained priests in the United States say a priest invited them to consider the priesthood.
The video was developed by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Vocations. More than 60,000 copies of the DVD have been distributed nationwide and internationally.
Joseph Campo, producer of Fishers of Men, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to portray the priestly vocation. “Serious filmmakers always work to produce something of extraordinary artistic quality,” he said. “When the work can serve a noble goal such as inviting men to the priesthood, it’s doubly rewarding for the artists.”
Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota lauded the video. “Anyone interested in the priesthood, whatever his age, responds to the DVD’s message: The priesthood is a call to service," he said. “With modern cinematography the filmmakers have captured the timeless calling of the priesthood: Follow and be like Jesus.”
Monsignor Edward J. Burns, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, described the program's success:
“This program has reached almost 50 percent of our dioceses and is now going international,” he said. “Nineteen countries have contacted us regarding this program. It is not only a resource for the church in the United States but hopefully a resource for the church universal. The testimonies of young men who have watched this production have made it all worthwhile.”
The Gabriel Awards are sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals to honor works of excellence in broadcasting.
The Fishers of Men trailer can be viewed at http://ccc.usccb.org/video/fishers_of_men1.wmv
Kuching, Malaysia, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - A Muslim group's recent visit to a Catholic Church in Malaysia is being called a breakthrough in grassroots interreligious dialogue.
On October 14, ten Muslims sat in the pews at Mass at Holy Trinity Church in Kuching. Several Church sources told UCA News they were sure this had not happened in the history of the Archdiocese of Kuching and had not heard of it happening anywhere else in Malaysia either.
Malaysia is a majority-Muslim country. Out of a population of 26 million people, 60 percent are Muslim, 19 percent are Buddhist, 9 percent are Christians and 6 percent are Hindu.
Christians and Muslims commonly believe that Muslims are forbidden even to enter a church. Led by Shah Kirit Kakakul Govindji of the Islamic Information and Services Foundation, the Muslim visitors initiated the visit themselves. Shah Kirit explained that the purpose of the visit was to discover similarities and common traditions shared by Muslims and Christians, and to respectfully "agree to disagree" on differences.
Archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock of Kuching supported the visit.
After Mass the parish priest invited the visitors and the parish council to breakfast and a session of interreligious dialogue. The Muslim visitors asked about the various denominations of Christianity, training for the Catholic priesthood, the Church's ministries and apostolic work, and Christ's Second Coming.
One parish council member said the meeting created "a sense of amazement."
At the request of the parish, Shah Kirit promised to send them English-language copies of the Qu'ran. The two groups have discussed a reciprocal visit by Catholics to a mosque.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who leads the polls in the Argentinean presidential campaign, said this week she is against abortion but would not commit to stopping it from becoming legal.
Fernandez, the wife of Argentina’s current president, told Radio 10 she has always “been against abortion,” but she said she has “much respect for the opinion of others.”
“I don’t think that those who work for the legalization of abortion are for abortion. That would be a reduction” of their position, she said ambiguously.
“The stigmatizing of others by arguing bothers me a lot, that if you think someone is favor of abortion and I don’t agree with that, then I stigmatize that person and I’m against him,” she said.
Support for gay unions
During the interview, Fernandez did say she supported “freedom of sexual choice in Argentina and the world,” and she said her administration would support the legalization of same-sex unions.
“It’s an issue to be debated in Parliament. It’s not a question for debate at the executive level,” she said.
Miami, Fla., Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - A group of Hispanic Catholic musicians will hold on concert on October 26 in Miami to launch a new CD by Cuban composer Jorge Enrique del Rivero, who died before he could finish the recording.
“Yo quiero ser como El” (“I Want to be Like Him”) is the title of the album that features fifteen new songs by Rivero. The arranger for the project was the renowned Chilean pianist Juan Salazar.
Rivero, who died in August of 2005, said one of his dying wishes was that the CD would be finished. In order to fulfill his dream, a group of artists including Miguel Ángel Guerra, Orlando Ponce, Mary Beyra, the band Mystika, Claribel Mercier, Rafael Herrera, Nora Dieseldorff and David Pedraza, came together to complete the project.
The artwork for the album was based on ideas Rivero had while he was working on the recording. He wanted to use a stained-glass window from the Church of San Luis in Miami, where he served in music ministry for fifteen years, for the album cover. The artwork also includes a painting of Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Rivero’s native country of Cuba.
Rivero also wanted a portion of the proceeds from the CD to be donated to the lay missionary group “Amor en Accion” (Love in Action) of the Archdiocese of Miami, which works with the Church in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in reaching out to the poor spiritually and materially.
Jorge Enrique del Rivero was born in Cuba in 1959. From a young age he was musically gifted, and under the guidance of his teacher, Francisco Javier Muller, a pianist with the Miami Philharmonic Orchestra, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Music School at the University of Miami, where he studied piano and composition with the renowned pianist Ivan Davis.
Rivero discovered his calling to compose music for God at the age of 14. Since then he participated in diverse music ministries in the Archdiocese of Miami and elsewhere for more than 30 years. In 1980 he founded the group Soiree, which pioneered contemporary Christian music in southern Florida. In 1983 he won the OTI Miami award for his song “Eres libre.”
More information about his new album can be found at www.musicoscatolicos.com/jorge
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2007 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father received the bishops from the central African country of Gabon as they completed their "ad limina" visit. The Pope told the African bishops that they must be careful that their faithful do not “let themselves be attracted by the consumerist permissive society, paying less attention to the poorest people of their country.”
At the beginning of his address to them, the Pope noted how the people of Gabon "sometimes let themselves be attracted by the consumerist permissive society, paying less attention to the poorest people of their country. I encourage them to increase fraternal sentiment and solidarity. Furthermore, a certain relaxation has been noted in the lives of Christians, taken in by the attractions of the world. It is my hope that their conduct becomes ever more exemplary in terms of spiritual and moral values."
Benedict XVI identified one of the most vital tasks of the Church in Gabon as "transmitting the faith and acquiring a deeper knowledge of the Christian mystery. In order to meet the challenges they face, the faithful need a thorough formation that enables them to found their Christian life upon clear principles."
In this way "ecclesial communities will be more vibrant and the faithful will draw strength from the liturgy and from individual, family and community prayer, so that, in all fields of social life, they become witnesses of the Good News and workers for reconciliation, justice and peace in this world of ours which needs these things more than ever."
The Pope emphasized the need to pay particular attention to the youth of Gabon. In this context, he expressed the hope that the young may become "the first evangelizers of their peers. Many times, through friendship and sharing, people come to discover the person of Christ and to join themselves to Him."
After then dwelling on the bishop's concern over the low numbers of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the Holy Father noted that "the seminary in Libreville must be watched over with particular care because the future of evangelization and of the Church are at stake." This, he said, " will not cease to be a stimulus so that, in each diocese, pastoral care of vocations develops and intensifies."
The Holy Father encouraged priests and religious, and their families, to "mobilize themselves through prayer, attention to the youngest and a concern for transmitting the call of Christ, so that the vocations your country needs may arise and spread."
Nor can we forget," he continued, "the role of Catholic education, in which teachers and educators have the mission of the integral education of the young. This task requires witness to and transmission of the faith, as well as attention to vocations."
With reference to priests, the Pope stressed that, "living in constant intimacy with Christ, they will have a sharper awareness of the need to remain faithful to the commitments made before God and the Church, especially ... chastity and celibacy. In this way, they will experience their priestly ministry ever more as a service to the faithful."
"They will find spiritual support in the brotherhood of priests, comforted by you who are father and brother to them," he told the bishops. "Thus, together, you will be able to implement joint pastoral projects that give fresh impetus to the mission. I encourage each priest to seek ... the good of the Church and not personal advantage, conforming his life and mission to the gesture of the washing of the feet. From such love, lived as disinterested service, profound joy will arise."