Archive of October 30, 2007

Benedict XVI calls on the media to serve the Truth

Vatican City, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Holy See announced today the theme chosen by Pope Benedict for the 42nd World Communications Day: “The Media: At the Crossroads Between Activism and Service. Seeking the Truth in order to share it with others.”

The theme "calls on us to reflect on the role played by the media and especially the increasing risk of their becoming self-absorbed and no longer tools at the service of truth - something which is meant to be sought and shared," said the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli.

The message of the Holy Father for the World Communications Day is usually published on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists (January 24) and celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost, which in 2008 is the May 4.

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Protecting environment and human development are not at odds, says archbishop to UN

, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - The environment, sustainable development, and the place of man in the world were the topics of a recent statement to the United Nations given by the Apostolic Nuncio leading the Holy See's permanent observer mission.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore explained the moral concern at the heart of environmentalism.  Emphasizing man's capacity for stewardship, he countered the mentality of some within the environmentalist movement that see man as a nuisance or a threat to the environment. Between the human being and the environment there is "an inseparable alliance, in which the environment essentially conditions man’s life and development, while the human being perfects and ennobles the environment by his or her creative activity," he stressed.

He highlighted the need to balance economic growth with the grave responsibility of protecting the environment:  "While the duty to protect the environment should not be considered in opposition to development, it must not be sacrificed on the altar of economic development. My delegation believes that, at its core, the environmental crisis is a moral challenge."

The archbishop also explained that real development cannot be limited purely to concerns about providing for people materially.  "Development is not achieved through a mere quantitative increase of production, but through a balanced approach to production, respect for the rights and dignity of workers, and environmental protection," he said.

Increasing responsibilities must accompany the expanding capacity for human power over nature, he claimed.

Archbishop Migliore related environmental concerns to energy policy, economics, peace and justice, national interests, and international solidarity.   Lamenting the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation on the poor, he noted their desperate efforts to make a livelihood often adversely impact the environment.   "Extreme want is not only the worst of all pollutions; it is also a great polluter."

The archbishop closed his speech by recommending personal commitment, education, equity between rich and poor, and by calling on large-scale industries to accept their special responsibility for the environment.

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Conventual Franciscan appointed auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wis., Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father announced the appointment of Father William Patrick Callahan as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  Bishop-elect Callahan is a Conventual Franciscan serving as Spiritual Director at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Born in 1950, Fr. Callahan was ordained in 1977 by the archbishop of Milwaukee and served as the Director of Vocations for the Conventual Franciscans.

The Conventuals are often referred to as the “Black Franciscans,” focus on assisting large urban areas and live in convents, giving them the name Conventual Franciscans.

“The fact that he is from a religious order affirms the strong tradition and presence of religious orders in southeastern Wisconsin.  The service of men and men religious are an essential part of our Church in southeastern Wisconsin,” stated Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee.

He continued saying the appointment of Callahan “will be a blessing for our Church and we are grateful the Holy Father has appointed him to serve the faithful people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”

In response to the appointment, the bishop-elect said, “I was humbled by the news from the Holy Father.  My only desire is to serve the Church and I am honored to be asked to do so as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It is already home for me and I am eager to get to know more of the priests and people of this great archdiocese and for them to know me.”

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee serves 707,688 Catholics, 703 priests, and 2,856 religious.

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Australian cardinal writes new book on "God and Caesar"

Sydney, Australia, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia launched his new book titled "God and Caesar" yesterday evening. The book contains various essays on the topics of bioethics, secularism, and the relation between faith and politics.

Cardinal Pell criticized the idea that religious concerns can be excluded from public debate because it is "not a native plant." 

"The Australian idea of life in common is often generous and always capacious," he said.  "A bit more religion here and there is something most will easily take in their stride, and probably nearly as many would be uneasy if religious voices were completely silent," he continued.

The cardinal particularly criticized the inconsistent way that religious involvement is welcomed in politics:  "The separation of church and state is sometimes invoked as a principle when politicians or others disagree with what church leaders or agencies have said on social justice, government policy, or moral issues, but when they agree with church statements this principle is not mentioned."

Cardinal Pell mentioned that he foresees conflict between the church and state taking place on biotechnology issues and homosexual rights laws in the future.

The cardinal also underlined the necessity for continuing religious peace, endorsing outreach to Australia's local Muslim community.  "One of the obvious tasks for the majority non-Muslim population in Australia is to establish and deepen friendship with the different Muslim communities now around us and to make them feel more at home, especially their young people," the cardinal said.

"The ideological struggle against Islamist violence in the Muslim community is one in which most of the heavy lifting has to be done by Muslims opposed to extremism, but we should be prepared to help them in this task in ways … which build trust and openness instead of fear and ghettoization."

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Former USCCB president diagnosed with prostate cancer

Atlanta, Ga., Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

This weekend he told his staff that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, said Pat Chivers, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.  He is scheduled for surgery November 5.

"He rises early, he exercises, and he eats healthy," Chivers said. "He is feeling very peaceful about [the cancer] and very confident it has been found early".

The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 100 percent if caught early enough.  Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of death by cancer in men in the United States.

Archbishop Gregory, the former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been the Archbishop of Atlanta for three years.  The Archdiocese of Atlanta contains about 650,000 Catholics.

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Cardinal Urosa demands Chavez withdraw constitutional reform

Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - The archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, has called on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to withdraw his plans for constitutional reform, which the bishops have called “morally unacceptable,” and that Chavez hopes will keep him in power.

At the beginning of a day of vocations for the Archdiocese of Caracas, the cardinal defended his right to question Chavez’s plans for reform and denied that he was acting as a spokesman for opposition groups, as some government officials have suggested.

“It’s neither my style nor that of the bishops to polarize,” the cardinal said, adding, “We think there are serious problems.  For the Venezuelan people, who have lived in peace with the 1999 Constitution, the best thing would be for this proposal (of constitutional reform) to be put aside and that we not go backwards in something that is so important.”

The cardinal said that if the reform is approved, it would go against “political freedom, against pluralism, against freedom of thought.”  He said all forms of intolerance should be rejected and that a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions should prevail over “insults and attacks.”

Urosa said that the bishops were committed to working for “peace, respect and tolerance” and emphasized that “political pluralism is a right and a fundamental value of the Venezuelan State.”

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Catholic healthcare group's expansion in Colorado triggers dispute over abortion, contraceptive coverage

Denver, Colo., Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - A Catholic hospital group's acquisition of non-Catholic Denver-area hospitals has started a debate about the place of Catholic ethics in healthcare.

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System is taking over three Exempla Healthcare facilities:  St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver, Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, reports the Denver Post. The Sisters of Charity are paying $311 million to buy out the 50 percent stake of its partner in the hospitals, the Community First Foundation.

Catholic ethics forbids direct abortion and birth control, and are already in force at the Sisters of Charity-owned St. Joseph's Hospital.  These standards will be implemented in the other hospitals after their successful acquisition. 

Exempla Spokeswoman Kim Kobel says the two other hospitals to be acquired have performed an average of five abortions per year to preserve the life and the health of the mother.  Tubal ligations will also cease, and women seeking emergency contraception will be referred to other hospitals.  End of life care practices could also be affected by the change of ownership.

The ownership change must be approved by the state attorney general.  The attorney general's review will focus on whether the acquisition constitutes a "material change in purpose."  If the review concludes it does, further inquiry will determine if reasonable accommodations have been made for the affected community.

The Sisters of Charity and the Community First Foundation have argued that "more than adequate" access to the procedures exists elsewhere in the community.  But Exempla's board plans to write a letter stating that the transfer would cause a reduction of services. 

"These are very difficult issues," said Jeff Selberg, president and CEO of Exempla.

Exempla and the foundation are trying to find a third party to provide the "reproductive services" not allowed under the new standards of practice. 

Lois Uttley, director of the Merger Watch organization sometimes critical of such acquisitions, related that in New York, one hospital which switched over to a Catholic affiliation created an independently owned hospital in its parking lot to perform so-called reproductive services.

Kaiser Permanente, which directs its members to Exempla hospitals, is one of Colorado's largest insurers with about 480,000 insurance subscribers in the state.  Kaiser's regional president Donna Lynne said the insurer is working to provide alternative care, but stated "at this time we have not finalized a plan that we believe fully meets the needs of our members."

Bill Murray, chief executive of the Sisters of Charity, said the health system "values our relationship with Kaiser" and that the organization is working on plans to meet the insurer's needs. 

The Sisters of Charity's greater financial resources would help fund more advanced health facilities with an additional $300 million planned investment in the Exempla hospitals.  A prospective relocation of St. Joseph's hospital could cost $1 billion.

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Lefebrivists demand Council be “corrected,” not interpreted

Rome, Italy, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - In an interview with Italian journalist Paolo Luigi Rodari, the author of the blog “Palazzo Apostolico,” Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, said the schismatic movement demands not only a “correct interpretation” of Vatican II, but that the Council documents actually be changed.

Fellay defended his fellow excommunicated bishop, Ricard Williamson, identified by some in the media as leader of the “intransigent wing” of the fraternity.  Fellay said, “Williamson and I are in agreement that it would be difficult to re-enter to the Church as it currently is.”

“The reasons are simple,” Fellay said, because “Benedict XVI has liberalized the ancient rite,” yet he has been criticized “by the majority of the bishops.”  “What should we do? Re-enter the Church just to be insulted by these people?” he said.

“In addition to the ancient rite,” he continued, “the problem for us is the words Pope Benedict has dedicated to Vatican II,” because “the rupture with the past is directly related, unfortunately, to some texts of Vatican II and these texts, in some way, should be revised.”

“Ratzinger should prepare for a direct revision of the Council texts and not just denounce their incorrect hermeneutic (interpretation),” Fellay went on.  He cited as an example the declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae.  According to Fellay, the document subjects the Church to the authority of the State. “In my opinion it should be the opposite: the State should submit to the Catholic faith and recognize that it is the religion of the State.”

Fellay said he has maintained ongoing correspondence with Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, “but no common working document exists yet.”  “I remain confident, however, because all of our contact up to this point has been excellent,” he said.

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Cardinal Ortega announces visit to Cuba by Vatican Secretary of State

Havana, Cuba, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, has announced that Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will visit Cuba in January of 2008.

Cardinal Ortega said the visit would “revive the spirit of the presence of John Paul II in Cuba in 1998.” It will also be recognition of all that the Pope’s visit meant and a chance to live that moment again in order to continue in that same spirit that must continue to grow.”

He recalled that Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba helped “open new possibilities” for the Church’s mission in that country, and at the same time “contributed to improving Cuba’s image in the world.”

Cardinal Ortega said relations between the Church and the State in Cuba “are good, but they could be better.”  He noted that on the feast of Our Lady of Charity on September 8, the Church was given access to nine radio stations “in prime time” to broadcast a message from the Cuban bishops and to invite the public to processions and other public Church events.

In addition, he said, in some dioceses the Church is being allowed greater access to prisons for prison ministry.  “This is going to spread, it’s a plan that’s going to continue,” he added.

Cardinal Ortega stressed, however, that the possibility of the Church having its own media outlet is still “an aspiration” and that talks are on-going with the government in this regard.  “Education is a more difficult matter, but it is something the Church cannot renounce,” the cardinal said.

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Green Party in Germany distances itself from statements by leader against Cardinal Meisner

Berlin, Germany, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - Leaders of the Green Party decided to distance themselves from statements by the organization’s parliamentary secretary, Volker Beck, who called Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne a “preacher of hate” for his statements against the homosexual lifestyle as a legitimate alternative.

“The so-called alternative human models of sexual relationships are not authentic and therefore are corrupt in their essence.  Humanity only destroys itself with them,” the cardinal warned during a visit to Switzerland.

In response, Beck told the German weekly Der Spiegel, “Cardinal Meisner is again simply acting as a preacher of hate who denies the right to exist to whole groups of human beings.”

Renate Kunast, Parliament leader in Bundestag, and Katrin Goring-Eckardt, vice president of Germany’s lower house, told the Der Tagespiegel daily that the statements by Beck were “inappropriate and disproportionate.”  However, while they said they disagreed with his choice of words, they said they were in agreement that the cardinal “should be criticized.”

Sources with the Archdiocese of Cologne said officials are considering legal action against Beck, similar to those taken several months ago when a court prohibited a comedian from using the same phrases to slander Cardinal Meisner.

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Granddaughter recounts moving story of grandmother’s martyrdom in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - Pilar Caballero, granddaughter of Teresa Cejudo, who was beatified last Sunday with hundreds of other martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, said her grandmother was remembered most for her spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Caballero, one of 2,500 family members of the 498 martyrs beatified this past Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, recalled that her grandmother was a Salesian cooperator in Pozoblanco and mother of a 10 year-old daughter at the time of her death.

“This experience has been very emotional and intense for my entire family,” says Caballero, “because since the 1970s, when the Salesian school began to push the cause of the beatifications, at home we always said that perhaps someday we would be lucky enough to see my grandmother beatified.”  Therefore, “it has been a tremendous joy to be here, with my mother who is still living, thank God, and her eleven children.”

Caballero said Blessed Teresa Cejudo was very active at the Salesian school in her town and “helped distribute food to poor families and taught children unable to attend school to read and write.”  She was put in prison for over a month in Pozoblanco and was shot at the cemetery together with seventeen others.  “She was very strong at that time,” Caballero continued. “She said goodbye to her only daughter, my mother, and she was shot last because that was what she requested.  She asked not to have her eyes covered, she wanted to die looking at death in the face, which she did not fear, because she was dying for God.  She encouraged her seventeen companions not to deny God or their faith.”

“My mother always told us about the visits to the prison during that month.  She said she never imagined something so traumatic was going to happen.  When they told her to say goodbye to her mother, she thought they were going to move her somewhere else. In fact, they told my mother they were going to move her.  The only thing she said, being a small girl of course, was that she wanted to go with her,” Caballero said.

“What I have learned most from my mother is that she has never held a grudge.  I’ve never once heard her say any such thing.  She never complained about anything.  She always said she had the misfortune of being orphaned at the age of 10 and of her mother being shot, but she never conveyed spitefulness to her eleven children nor did she ever speak about the war in a political sense.”

“I have to thank her for that for the rest of my life.  She never conveyed anger or ill-will to us, being in a town so small as Pozoblanco, where the war was very hard,” Caballero said.

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Britney’s newest publicity stunt involves inappropriate photos with “priest”

Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 30, 2007 (CNA) - Britney Spears is attempting to stir-up controversy with her new album “Blackout” by posing suggestively in a confessional with a priest. The Catholic League’s president of Media Relations, Kiera McCaffrey, has dismissed Britney’s antics as “cheap tricks” that won’t really influence people’s image of the Church.


Spears’ album photos show her leaning suggestively against a confessional wall while a “priest” listens to her sins.  Another shows her sitting on the same “priest’s” lap clad in fishnet leggings.


When asked by CNA if she thought Britney’s marketing ploy would affect people’s perceptions of the Catholic Church, McCaffrey said “ No I certainly don’t think that people are going to think this happens in confessionals…and most people looking at this will think that she’s trying to just get attention.”


McCaffery characterized the pop star’s photos as a product of her personal life and bad advice from her record label: “it looks sad, it looks that this is a troubled girl, whose handlers are giving her this bright idea… and that is really no way to take care of somebody.”


Echoing earlier comments by Bill Donahue, she noted, “If everything were going well, not only in her personal life but in her career, this sort of thing wouldn’t be necessary. Britney Spears has certainly had hits before… and back before she had this crash…she didn’t need to resort to this kind of nonsense.”


Spears has garnered a lot of media attention during the last year. Most recently, she was stripped of all but monitored visitation with her two young sons after the presiding judge called her a "habitual" user of drugs and alcohol.

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