Archive of November 9, 2007

Archbishop's joy at Glasgow success

, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Mario Conti, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, has expressed his delight at the news that the city has been chosen to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Archbishop said: "This is great news for Glasgow and for Scotland.  The positive impact of bringing such a great international festival of sport to the banks of the Clyde is hard to over-estimate.

"This news will mean new opportunities for investing in facilities, but more importantly in people, and will play an important role in transcending the material, social and spiritual poverty which still blights the lives of too many of the people of this area.

"I congratulate the City Council for having the ambition and skill to bring the games to Glasgow and the Scottish Government for its energetic support of Glasgow's bid."

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Benedict XVI proclaims: Christians, especially the youth, must go against the tide

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - “Today as in the past, people who wish to be Christ's disciples are called to go against the tide,” said Pope Benedict to a group of Catholic university students today. He also told the young scholars-in-training “not to fear choosing 'alternative' paths” that go against modern culture.

Benedict XVI’s remarks came as he spoke to a delegation from the Italian Catholic University Federation (FUCI) on the occasion their 110th anniversary.

The Pope praised FUCI for contributing “to the formation of entire generations of exemplary Christians who have proved capable of translating the Gospel into life and with life, dedicating themselves in the cultural, civil, social and ecclesial fields."

As examples of their influence the Holy Father pointed to Blesseds Piergiorgio Frassati and Alberto Marvelli, the Italian politicians Aldo Moro and Vittorio Bachelet, "both barbarously murdered," and Paul VI "who was the principal ecclesiastical assistant to FUCI during the difficult years of fascism."

"In the mid 1990s," Benedict explained, "the academic system in Italy underwent a radical reformation, and today has an entirely different aspect, full of promise for the future but also having elements that give rise to legitimate concern."

Knowledge and Faith in Academia

"It is precisely in this field that FUCI can, even today, fully express its original and ever-valid charism: a convinced witness to the 'possible friendship' between knowledge and faith. This involves incessant efforts to unite maturity in faith with growth through study and the acquisition of academic knowledge."

"Study," said Benedict XVI, "also represents a providential opportunity to progress along the road of faith, because well-cultivated intelligence opens man's heart to listening to the voice of God, highlighting the importance of discernment and humility."

Faith Engages the Culture

When a person’s intellect is formed and his heart is open, they must engage the culture. "In modern society," the Holy Father made clear, "there exists a race, sometimes a desperate race, towards appearance and possession at all costs, at the expense, unfortunately, of being.”

“The Church, teacher of humanity, never tires of exhorting people, especially the young of whom you are a part, to remain watchful and not to fear choosing 'alternative' paths which only Christ can indicate," exhorted the Pope.

"Today as in the past, people who wish to be Christ's disciples are called to go against the tide" and not to let themselves be influenced by messages that propagate "arrogance and the achievement of success at all costs.”

"Jesus calls all His friends to live in sobriety and solidarity, to create sincere and disinterested emotional relationships with others. From you, dear young students, He asks for honest commitment to study, cultivating a mature sense of responsibility and a shared interest in the common good."

"May your years at university be, then, training for a convinced and courageous evangelical witness. And to realize your mission, seek to cultivate an intimate friendship with the divine Master, enrolling yourselves in the school of Mary, Seat of Learning."

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Tony Blair believed to convert to Catholicism this month

London, England, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will soon be received into the Catholic Church, The Telegraph reports.

The prominent Catholic newspaper The Tablet reported that his formal conversion will take place at a Mass in the private chapel of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of London.  The Tablet predicted Blair would convert this month.

Tony Blair's wife and four children are Catholic, and the family has attended Mass together for years.

A spokesman for the former prime minister did not deny the report outright but said "this is the same old speculation."

However a friend of Mr. Blair reportedly said "It is something he has wanted to do for years but knew it would be easier after he had left office. Tony and Cherie are both thrilled."

Tony Blair remained an Anglican while in office because of legal questions about a Catholic being in such a high position.  Clauses in the 1829 Emancipation Act, which provided Roman Catholics full civil rights, forbid a Catholic adviser to the monarch from holding civil or military office.

According to The Tablet, Mr. Blair was invited to be received into the Church in Rome.  His advisers discouraged this idea for fear others would see it as an indulgence in Catholic triumphalism.

Blair's political stands have not always been consistent with Catholic ethics.  While a minister of parliament Mr. Blair voted for legal abortion up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, a vote publicly condemned by Cardinal Thomas Winning of Scotland.  Mr. Blair has also supported civil partnerships for homosexuals.


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Priest arrested, removed from ministry for stalking Conan O'Brien

Brighton, Mass., Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - A priest from the Archdiocese of Boston arrested for allegedly stalking NBC late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien has been placed on leave, the Boston Globe reports.

Father David Ajemian, a 46 year-old priest from Stoneham, Massachusetts, was arrested in New York City last week on charges of stalking Conan O'Brien.

He is accused of sending threatening mail to the host's home and office, contacting his parents, and showing up at the studios in Manhattan where O'Brien's show is filmed. The charges against the priest are aggravated harassment and stalking, for which he could face up to a year in prison if convicted.

Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office, told the Associated Press that Father Ajemian wrote in one of the letters "I want a public confession before I ever consider giving you absolution - or a spot on your couch."  He signed the letters "Padre 009."

Conan O’Brien does have a friendship with Fr. Paul B. O'Brien, who is pastor of Saint Patrick's Church in Lawrence.  Though the two are unrelated, both were roommates at Harvard. Some news reports are speculating that Ajemian may also know the late-night entertainer from Harvard.

Father Ajemian was ordained in 2001.  He was recently a parochial vicar at a Stoneham parish, and according to an archdiocesan spokeswoman he had been unassigned since June.

The Archdiocese of Boston released a statement announcing Father Ajemian's removal from public ministry as a result of his arrest.  The archdiocese has also placed the priest on leave.

"The Archdiocese has cooperated and continues to cooperate fully with New York authorities on this matter. Further, during this difficult time, the Archdiocese will offer pastoral support to all parties affected," the statement said.

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Women to go ahead with “ordination” ceremony despite warnings

St. Louis, Mo., Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Saint Louis has warned two Saint Louis women they will excommunicate themselves if they undergo a planned “ordination ceremony” scheduled for this Sunday.

Rose Marie Dunn Hudson, 67, and Elsie Hainz McGrath, 69, are to undergo the ceremony, which will be led by a former nun, according to the Associated Press.  They are part of a Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement that began in 2002.

Saint Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke warned the two women of the excommunication in letters delivered by courier.  The archbishop warned them that by participating in the ceremony they would commit a "grave error" and an "act of schism".

He reiterated that the pope has stated infallibly that only men can be validly ordained.  He said if they proceeded they would automatically incur excommunication "in order to protect the faithful from grave spiritual deception."

Archbishop Burke also wrote "additional disciplinary measures will also have to be imposed."

"What is he going to do, burn us at the stake, or what?" Ms. Hudson asked. "We're going to just totally ignore it. This is not unexpected. We wondered why it took so long."

"It's a typically hierarchical form of intimidation, and we will not be intimidated," Mrs. McGrath said.

Both women have graduate degrees in religious studies.  Ms. Hudson is a retired teacher who has done prison ministry for the past 15 years.  Mrs. McGrath is the widow of a Catholic deacon and has worked for the archdiocese, for the theology department at St. Louis University, and as a campus minister.

The "ordination" ceremony will be led by a former nun from South Africa who now lives in Germany, Patricia Fresen.  Ms. Fresen, who claims to have ordained other women, also claims to have been ordained a bishop in Germany in 2005 by an unnamed bishop in communion with the Pope.  The ceremony will take place at a St. Louis synagogue. 

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Holy See delegation to UN endorses two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio heading the Holy See's Permanent Observer mission to the United Nations, endorsed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a Thursday address to the UN refugee agency.

"My delegation remains convinced that the two-state solution has the best chance to settle the crisis," he said.

Speaking to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Archbishop Migliore urged all parties to the conflict to seek peace. He noted that the conflict is one of the leading causes of instability in the Middle East and sought to address the fundamental questions plaguing Israeli-Palestinian relations.

"At the heart of the matter remains the problem of injustice," he said.  Decrying the endless postponement of peaceful resolution, he condemned refusals to negotiate and compromise. 

"Whether such a mindset is deliberate or not does not alter the reality on the ground, namely, innocent people and entire families on all sides continue to suffer terribly," the archbishop said.

However, Archbishop Migliore recommended that Israelis, Palestinians, and their neighbors should play the largest role in settling the conflict, saying "Bringing this solution to reality is not the primary responsibility of the Quartet [the United Nations, the United States, Europe and Russia], but of the parties directly concerned and the neighboring countries who have immediate interests in the whole question."

His speech emphasized that governmental authorities were not the only agents capable of resolving the conflict.  The people themselves should work for peace.  "We appeal not only to authorities, but to the entire Israeli, Palestinian and neighbouring peoples," the archbishop said

Archbishop Migliore reminded the agency that religion had a serious role to play in peacemaking, stating "my delegation remains convinced that the different religious confessions in the Holy Land can make a significant contribution to resolving the conflict."
Finally, Archbishop Migliore underlined the importance of the Holy City of Jerusalem to a two-state solution.  Quoting a UN General Assembly Resolution of April 25, 1997, he declared that the Holy See renews its support for "internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the City of Jerusalem the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities.”

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Spanish bishop says Pope’s new book antidote to “Da Vinci Code”

Valencia, Fla., Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - During the presentation of Pope Benedict XVI’s book “Jesus of Nazareth,” the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez of Bilbao, said the book strengthens the faith and clears up the doubts of those who felt shaken by recent publications such as “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Gospel of Judas.”
Bishop Blazquez said the Pope’s book is “very rich, sober and well presented” and “simplifies complexities” while at the same time “help[ing] believers dispel possible confusion with clarity.”
“Many people knew nothing about Jesus” until the book by Dan Brown appeared, the bishop continued, noting that “Jesus of Nazareth” is a historical investigation that “seeks to confront the well of insecurities that has been created” in society.
“This book strengthens faith in Jesus Christ,” he stressed, pointing out that while the book is not a biography it does “follow the major milestones of his public activity.”
The book presents “not only the Jesus Christ of yesterday but also of today and forever,” and it presents reflections on “the current situation with much sobriety, without rhetoric or superfluous embellishments.  It is both deep—because he does not beat around the bush—and simple, as the author has the gift of communicating.”

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Legalization of abortion in Uruguay indication of region-wide strategy

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the NGO Pro-Vida, Roberto Castellano, warned that what happened this week in Uruguay, where the Senate legalized abortion, confirms the existence of a strategy to establish an organized agenda against human life in Latin America.
According to Castellano, the case of Uruguay—added to similar episodes in other countries—“reveals that at the regional level there is concerted and systematic pressure to impose an agenda against human life based on the promotion of contraception, the liberalization of abortion, surgical sterilization and the dismantling of the traditional family composed of a man and a woman by making same-sex unions equivalent to marriage.”
“To what has occurred in Uruguay we must add local projects with the same purpose: the legalization ordered by the courts in Colombia, as well as the law recently approved—by a narrow margin—in Mexico City,” Castellano said.
He also recalled that in Chile the government has made it “official policy to force pharmacies to sell the morning-after abortion pill, as is the case in our country.  Similar initiatives to those of Uruguay exist in Paraguay, and recently Brazil’s president Ignacio Lula Da Silva has expressed his intention to advance the recognition of legal abortion despite public acceptance of the practice being at historic lows.”
Castellano said proof of the international anti-life strategy can be seen from “the presence and pressure that the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) carried out for such purposes in Uruguay recently as well as the assistance that the Ford Foundation has given to pro-abortion groups.”
“The statements made by Giselle Carino, director of IPPF’s ‘Safe abortion Division’ about the Senate’s decision are public. The IPPF has central offices in New York and London and is the main provider of abortions worldwide through its network of abortion clinics,” he added.
Castellano said anti-life policies are explained by the need of international centers of power to control demographic growth, “especially in areas of the world that are rich in prime materials and burdened with heavy debt. Thus these centers ensure two things: the supplying of the resources they need and the payment of external debt [creating]… the need for social investment to reduce the regional fertility index,” he said.

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Priest admonishes Jesuit who announced his homosexuality: "the Mass is not your personal stage"

Front Royal, Va., Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Father Thomas J. Euteneur, president of Human Life International (HLI) has written an open letter to a Jesuit priest chastising the cleric for using a homily at a student Mass to declare that he was homosexual.

Father Thomas Brennan, SJ, at a Sunday evening Mass at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia tied his announcement to the Diversity Week being celebrated by the Jesuit university.  He said his homosexuality was one of the "worst-kept secrets" on campus, though he neglected to explain in his homily Catholic teaching about homosexuality.

Fr. Euteneur explained the reasons for his letter to Fr. Brennan, saying that the Jesuit priest's public declaration justified a public response.

Rebuking the inappropriate way that Fr. Brennan made his announcement, the HLI president said "Holy Mass is not a forum for your self-expression. You chose the sacred liturgy and the pulpit reserved for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the launching pad for your personal testament to homosexuality, when by your own admission this was hardly a secret to anyone. One wonders if you would have inflicted details of your personal life on a friend while officiating at his wedding or any other sacred occasion. The effect would be the same: the derailing of the focus of attention from the host to you. You’ve read the same documents I’ve read about the liturgy, and all of them say the Mass is not your personal stage."

Fr. Euteneur explained the nature of the sacrament of Holy Orders, saying that a priest becomes "another Christ" and witnesses with his very body the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In his letter he also questioned Father Brennan about the priestly sacramental witness of his sexuality. Fr. Euteneur suggested the Jesuit priest had disordered motives for embracing the celibate state:

"A heterosexual celibate renounces his natural desire for wife and children in order to serve the Bride of Christ in a direct spousal relationship. A homosexual celibate renounces an unholy desire for members of the same sex: that is a renunciation of a disorder, not the embrace of a Bride."

Fr. Brennan was also rebuked for his neglect of his congregation's needs.  "When even a celibate priest chooses to go public about his homosexual identity as an expression of “diversity” or “pride,” the faithful are rightfully confused and scandalized. Not only do you owe them an apology, you owe them a better example of priesthood," Fr. Euteneur said.

In closing Euteneur urged Fr. Brennan both to be a priest who teaches clearly and unambiguously about Catholic teaching on homosexual acts, and to become a strong and loving father for his congregation.


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Mexico: churches taking in refugees from flood in Tabasco

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Father Mario Jimenez of Caritas Tabasco and the Bishops’ Committee on Social Ministry said this week the churches that are not under water in the region have been converted into shelters for the thousands of people affected by the floods that have devastated the Mexican state of Tabasco.

Speaking to reporters, Father Jimenez said that in Villahermosa—where the floods have been the worst—ten churches are functioning as shelters and another seven have been flooded.  “We are keeping track of the number of people taking shelter and assistance is being provided to cover their basic necessities,” he said.

Nevertheless, he explained that logistical problems are preventing much of the aid from being distributed.  “The action plan followed by Caritas consists of a four-point emergency program: respond to the emergency, contribute to rehabilitation, reconstruction and the prevention of future natural disasters,” he said.

Father Jimenez also noted that Bishop Benjamin Castillo of Tabasco is in constant communication with federal and state officials in order to ensure that humanitarian aid is quickly delivered to the shelters.

The Diocese of Tabasco has 1,500 churches, 50 percent of which have been damaged by the floods.

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Holy See to the UN: Refugees must be protected as they flee

, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Yesterday afternoon the Holy See’s representative to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, spoke to the General Assembly about his concern for the dangers that refugees face when they have to flee their homes.

The Assembly is meeting to consider the report of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Archbishop Migliore expressed his concern over the plight of people forced by various causes to leave their homes, "especially when they move across frontiers of countries or regions with rigid migration policies.”

“Concerns increase when doubts arise regarding the applicability of existing international instruments, or when no legal instruments of protection exists,” the prelate said.

To remedy the situation, the archbishop called for urgent consideration of “a coordinated international effort, with a view to seeking greater clarity in existing legal instruments of protection or, if need be, to establishing new ones."

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Colorado bishops speak out against new Planned Parenthood headquarters

Denver, Colo., Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Catholic bishops of Colorado released a statement regarding Planned Parenthood’s constructions plans for a new headquarters and clinic in Denver.

The bishops write, “In early November, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) broke ground on a new headquarters and clinic in northeast Denver.” They “purchased this property secretly under the guise of Fuller 38 LLC.”
“Planned Parenthood told the Denver Post that PPRM planned to complete the entire project in secrecy to avoid protests and delays that other Planned Parenthood buildings have encountered around the country.”

The project, which is to be completed in the summer of 2008, is located at 7155 E. 38th Ave. in Denver.  The general contractor for the project is the Weitz Company LLC.
Planned Parenthood is among the leading providers of abortion in the United States.  In 2005, they performed 264,943 abortions, a 29% increase since 2000.  “Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has stated that it served 125,000 patients in five states, including Colorado, last year and of those 8,800 received abortions.”
“Teens and young people are the primary customers for their services and information, which include the distribution of contraception, emergency contraception and chemical and surgical abortions.  Nationally 70 % of Planned Parenthoods customers are under age 25 and 27% are under age 19. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is a supplier of graphic and educational materials.”
“Planned Parenthood calls itself pro-child, pro-woman, and pro-family.  Yet it is an organization based on falsehoods about the human person, the family and community life.”

“When a minor comes to Planned Parenthood, she is provided information on contraception, sex education and treatment of STDs without parental notification.  How can Planned Parenthood justify calling itself pro-family or pro-child when it intrudes itself between a child and parent?”
“Planned Parenthood vigorously opposes any legislation that would provide advance[d] medical information pertaining to an abortion procedure, and opposes any legislation that would provide a woman, who is seeking an abortion, knowledge of her unborn child’s development or information regarding alternatives to abortion.  Considering the psychological and physical effects of abortion on a woman, how can Planned Parenthood call itself pro-woman and oppose widespread access to advanced information?”
In conclusion, the Catholic bishops of Colorado, “deplore the negative impact of the actions and philosophy of PPRM.  We urge the Catholic community and all people of good will to defend themselves and their beliefs against Planned Parenthood by every legal and ethical means at their disposal.  We ask all Catholics to pray, within their families and parish communities, that the dignity and sanctity of every human life will be upheld at all stages of development.”


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Italian journalist disputes claim of miscommunication on Bible ban

Rome, Italy, Nov 9, 2007 (CNA) - Over the last several days there has been quite an uproar surrounding the report of a ban on Bibles at the Beijing Olympics. In a new development, Mr. Francesco Liello, the journalist who originally reported that a ban was in place, has told CNA that a miscommunication about a Bible ban was not possible given the dossier he received.

The Beijing Olympic Planning Committee claims that the whole issue is the result of a miscommunication between Mr. Liello and a member of the organizing committee. Mr. Liello disputes that claim, saying that Bibles were banned, albeit only for one day.

A translation of Mr. Liello’s letter explaining what happened follows:

Dear Mr. Director,

I am the author of the story about the Bible in the Olympics.

I do not believe that there was any "miscommunication" when a sheet of paper came attached to the appendix of the dossier that was distributed during the second "World Press Briefing".

The paper's title says:
Items Prohibited and Restricted in Olympic Venues (For Accredited Personnel)

In the paragraph: “1. Items Prohibited”, Number (7) reads: “Pamphlets and materials used for any religious or political activity or display.”

I believe that when there is a reference to religious activity, the Bible is fully included in this. And moreover under that same [rule] even a Cross on the chest could be regarded as forbidden material.

The next day, a reviewed version arrived under the title "For Media Personnel at Venues" (and not for Accredited media, as it was in the original version.)

Number (7) is listed as (8) and now forbids: “Promotional materials used for any religious or political activity.”

To the question of how the organizers understand “Promotional materials,” the person responsible for security said he was not in a position to respond, referring us to the Chinese legislation. Therefore, he did not clarify if the Bible could be regarded as promotional material. Since the term "display" was eliminated, obviously crosses or other exposed symbols are not forbidden any more.

Therefore, I don't believe there was any kind of miscommunication between myself (the "Italian Journalist" mentioned, even though there were several [journalists] there and not just me) and the representative of the organizing committee.

Best regards,

Francesco Liello
La Gazzetta dello Sport
China Correspondent

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