Archive of November 22, 2007

College of Cardinals to meet to discuss ecumenism

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy See Press Office announced today that before Saturday’s consistory to create new cardinals, the College of Cardinals will meet to address current state of ecumenical dialogue between Christians. 

The meeting will take place on November 23 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall. After praying the Middle Hour (Terce), at 9.30 a.m. the Holy Father will greet the cardinals present. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity will then deliver a report on the theme: 'Information, reflections and evaluation concerning the current moment in ecumenical dialogue.' This will be followed by contributions from the cardinals, lasting until 12.30 p.m.

"The meeting will resume at 5 p.m. with the celebration of Vespers. Then, following an introduction by the Holy Father, a free exchange of ideas will take place between the cardinals on the life of the Church in general. The day of prayer and reflection will conclude at 7 p.m. with an address by the Supreme Pontiff."


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Bishop urges area Catholics to reject city's domestic-partner registry

Toledo, Ohio, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - The leader of the Toledo Catholic Diocese yesterday urged parishioners to oppose the city’s creation of a domestic-partner registry, but the only thing that can slow the legislation now is a mayoral veto.

A statement issued by Bishop Leonard P. Blair, read at Sunday Mass, said: “We ought not to be encouraging cohabitation by giving it legal recognition as an alternative to marriage.”

The bishop asked parishioners to “join me in opposing measures like the domestic-partnership registry, particularly when there has been little time for public discussion.”

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has until the end of the day Friday to act on legislation approved by City Council on Tuesday in a 10-2 vote. The legislation allows same-sex or heterosexual unmarried couples to register as domestic partners, providing employers who want to offer benefits to unmarried couples a way to check their relationship status.

Mayor Finkbeiner’s spokesman, Brian Schwartz, says the mayor has not decided what he will do.

The mayor has 10 days to sign or veto the legislation or do nothing, which has the same effect as signing the ordinance.
The legislation passed with one vote more than the nine votes required to override a veto.

“I don’t think [the legislation] was rushed through,” said Councilman Joe McNamara, who introduced the registry as a way to announce Toledo’s tolerance for diversity in its desire to attract residents.

“Members of council had it for weeks. We had a public hearing. There were multiple articles in The Blade. No one came to the hearing in opposition. It went through normal channels,” he said.

The issue passed council a week after it first became public in an article in The Blade on Nov. 6, the first of two articles and one editorial published before council’s vote Nov. 13.

But Councilman Rob Ludeman, one of the two “no” votes on the registry issue, also said it was rushed.

“I was disappointed with the way the whole issue was rushed through council almost as if some council members were trying to get it done before there could be much public comment,” Mr. Ludeman said.

Although no one from the diocese spoke at a public hearing on the measure Nov. 9, Mr. Ludeman said council members received a letter from the bishop’s office, urging the process be slowed, before the Nov. 13 vote.

Under the legislation, couples would pay $25 to register with the clerk of City Council. Each member of the couple would be required to sign an affidavit stating they are in an intimate relationship, share a residence, are at least 18 years old, and are not blood relatives.

David Mann, president of EqualityToledo Community Action, which long has worked for registry legislation, said such a law assists Toledo’s families.

“We strongly believe this will only help Toledo families get access to health care,” Mr. Mann said. “It’s the right thing to do. Toledoans deserve the right to have health care, and have access to their partner when they’re sick, and to join with their families in a family plan at a health club. All these things are what a domestic registry is about.

“As a Catholic, I’m sad to see that the bishop and the diocese has come out to oppose the domestic-partners registry,” he said.

But other area Catholics support the bishop’s position.

“I think it’s wonderful. I’m grateful for what he did,” said Joan Sprouse of Oregon after Mass at St. Catherine of Siena. “I think it was underhanded that they rushed it through without letting other people, people opposed to it, speak.”

“We voted against the gay rights as far as marriage and everything,” said Mary McGarry of Toledo, referring to the Ohio constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2004 that defined marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman.

“I don’t know what the big deal is. We’ve already prevoted that,” she said.

Bishop Blair’s letter to parishioners cited the constitutional amendment.

“Not only religious faith, but also human reason, tell us that the way to move our community forward is to strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it by giving legal standing to lifestyles that are not in keeping with the God-given meaning and purpose of marriage,” the statement says.

But Mr. McNamara says the domestic-partners registration in no way violates the “Defense of Marriage” amendment, an opinion also given by the city’s law director, John Madigan.

“It is not marriage. It doesn’t create any rights, benefits, or privileges that are associated with marriage,” Mr. McNamara said. “What this legislation is about is property rights,” he said, allowing people to confer property rights on whomever they wish.

Nor does the legislation introduce anything new to the city, he said, because the city already allows domestic-partner benefits in the fire and police department employees.

Domestic-partner benefits also are offered by the University of Toledo and Owens-Corning, he said.

Mr. McNamara is Catholic.

“I’m trying to serve God and my fellow man. I’m trying to help as many people as I possibly can. I think this legislation is good for Toledo.”

Printed with the permission of The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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Misinformation continues to spread about Terri Schiavo’s death

Tampa, Fla., Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - This past Monday on the show "This Week", George Stephanopoulos, in an interview with Senator Fred Thompson, commented that Terri Schiavo's autopsy proved she was "brain dead." The New York Times also reported on this interview, repeating that the autopsy proved Terri was "brain dead."

This is patently false and Terri's family is requesting that the media immediately stop using this offensive and inaccurate expression to describe her condition.

Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, explained that, "Brain death is an authentic diagnosis, not some catch phrase that should be loosely used based upon a 'summary of widespread response' or opinions that have been written about my sister. … He emphasized that “not one doctor ever diagnosed Terri as being 'brain-dead.' This includes those who wrote her autopsy report. All of this information is easily available and accessible."

Schindler also pointed out another inaccuracy in the reporting of his sister’s death, “[r]arely, if ever, mentioned in media reports are the more than 40 doctors' affidavits submitted to the court that either contradicted that Terri was in a so-called PVS or stated that she could have been helped with proper rehabilitation.”

The media also fails to report the medical records confirming that Terri at one time was beginning to speak, or the videos of Terri interacting with her family and her surroundings, all of which prove that she was very much alive, and very much responsive. Schindler added, "This has been a major problem with the mainstream media - not just that they are writing that Terri was brain dead, but how they continue to inaccurately and irresponsibly report blatant falsehoods regarding my sister's condition."

Schiavo's autopsy itself proved that, prior to her death, she was never dying, was physically healthy and would have lived a long life had she not been dehydrated over a period of two weeks. The autopsy was also unable to determine whether or not Terri was actually in a persistent vegetative state, as her estranged husband, Michael Schiavo, and his attorney claimed in their quest to have her killed.

Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri's sister, adds, "If the media took the time to research Terri's case, perhaps they would understand that she was simply a woman living with a disability, just like the 50 million persons living with a disability in our country today, and was in need of only love and compassion. The media's continuing quest to somehow justify her death is offensive to her memory and even more offensive to the tens of thousands of people who live with cognitive disabilities similar to Terri's."

"Terri was a daughter, a sister and a friend who was loved by many who feel the pain of her loss every single day. She was guilty only of having a brain injury and being dependent on others for her care. Sadly, in today's culture, this was not enough to save her from being killed," said Vitadamo. "My sister fell victim to an ever-growing and dangerous 'quality of life' standard used to decide whether one should live or die."

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New archbishop installed in Belarus

Minsk, Belarus, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - About 4,500 people attended the recent installation of Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz as the archbishop of the archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev in Belarus.

Held in the cathedral of the Name of Saint Mary in Minsk, the installation ceremony was attended by numerous guests including local authorities, heads of charities, and political and religious leaders.  Episcopal representatives from the Vatican, Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan were in attendance.  Residents of the Grodna-district village of Adzielsk, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz's hometown, were also guests.

The ceremony was held in Belarusian and Latin, and certain prayers were read in various languages including English, Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian.  The ceremony was broadcast live to Poland by the Belarusian National Television and Radio Company, while a huge plasma screen was installed in front of the church so people could watch from outside.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz was previously the administrator of the archdiocese of Holy Mother of God in Moscow.

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Archbishop DiNardo's twin sister reflects on brother's elevation

Houston, Texas, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - Family members of Archbishop of Houston-Galveston Daniel DiNardo on Monday traveled to Rome for his elevation to the cardinalate.

Peg Riesmeyer, Cardinal-designate DiNardo's twin sister, was born just nine minutes before her brother.  Before leaving for Rome she reflected on the family's reaction to the news.

"No way could I have anticipated this particular blessing on him and on our family, so it's extraordinary. We're thrilled," she said.

Mrs. Riesmeyer said Cardinal-designate DiNardo was drawn to the priestly life at an early age.  As a child he even pretended to say Mass daily at a homemade altar.  "We always knew that he was going to be a priest and I wasn't even as surprised when he became a bishop because I always thought he had the qualities to be a good bishop."

She said, "You always think there's something wrong when you get a phone call at 5 in the morning, but Dan called and first thing he said was 'This is not bad. Don't worry.' And then told us that he had been named a cardinal and it was just a stunning moment."
Mrs. Riesmeyer considered how their parents, now deceased, would have reacted to the news their son had been elevated to the cardinalate.

"That to me is one of the biggest thrills is how happy they would be. They were elated when he became a bishop, that their son received those honors, so I can imagine that they are just rejoicing in heaven that this happened to their son," she said.

About 1.3 million Catholics live in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  Cardinal-designate DiNardo will become Texas' first cardinal after his official elevation on Saturday.

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Aboriginal artist's images to represent World Youth Day 2008

Sydney, Australia, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - The work of Richard Campbell, an Australian from the Gumbaingirr/Dhungutti people, has been selected to be displayed at World Youth Day events and on event paraphernalia.

Campbell's series of indigenous artworks reinterpret major Catholic themes.  His Fourteen Stations of the Cross, The Madonna, The Crucifixion, and The Resurrection will be used on merchandise for the expected 225,000 registered pilgrims for the international youth event.

Mr. Campbell was taken away from his family at the age of nine.  Afterwards he was constantly moved from one boy's home to another.

“A Catholic priest once asked me to connect Aboriginal spirituality with bible stories through a painting,” Campbell said.

“When I started to paint, I felt my own spirituality come flooding back and I started to remember the stories of my people. That’s when I became aware of the similarity between Aboriginal and Christian stories.”

The artist, a finalist for the prestigious Blake Prize, collaborates with his sister Louise Campbell who composes stories and prayers behind the paintings.  Together they hope to convey spirituality common to all.

“We all have a spiritual connection, we’re all brothers and sisters, with the animals, the trees, rivers and rocks, we all belong to one big God - call it Christ, we call it Birrigun, we are all one in God,” Mr. Campbell said.

His art will also be displayed at a venue in Sydney during World Youth Day.

Up to 125,000 overseas pilgrims are expected for the event, including Pope Benedict XVI in his first Australian visit.  It will be held July 15 through July 20.

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Hunger no more! Pope Benedict XVI exclaims

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - “The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!” the Pope told members of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gathered in Rome for their 34th general conference today.

Benedict XVI decried the paradox of "the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology."

Given the development of resources and the increase in man’s ability to grow food, "all forms of discrimination, and particularly those that thwart agricultural development, must be rejected since they constitute a violation of the basic right of every person to be 'free from hunger,'” the pontiff explained.  Indeed, “these convictions are in fact demanded by the very nature of your work on behalf of the common good of humanity," said the Pope.

Such obstacles as "armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples," said the Pope, "should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread.

The contribution of the Church to the achievements of technology is to call for “far- sighted programs embodying enduring values grounded in the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person," he added.

Benedict XVI continued his talk by saying that "today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming the conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development." This, according to the Pope, is where religion can bring its unique contribution “as a potent spiritual force for healing the wounds of conflict and division … especially through the work of forming minds and hearts in accordance with a vision of the human person."

"Technical progress, important as it is, is not everything," Benedict told the FAO delegates. "Progress must be placed within the wider context of the integral good of the human person. It must constantly draw nourishment from the common patrimony of values which can inspire concrete initiatives aimed at a more equitable distribution of spiritual and material goods."

The Holy Father pointed to the spiritual dimension of providing aid to others by quoting his own encyclical: "those who are in a position to help others will realize that, in doing so, they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own" (Deus Caritas Est, # 35). “This principle has a special application to the world of agriculture, in which the work of those who are often considered the "lowliest" members of society should be duly acknowledged and esteemed,” he said.

Benedict concluded his remarks by recalling how "FAO's outstanding activity on behalf of development and food security clearly points to the correlation between the spread of poverty and the denial of basic human rights, beginning with the fundamental right to adequate nutrition. Peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights are inseparably linked. The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!"


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Mexico: Cathedral to re-open when government guarantees security in writing

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the College of Catholic Lawyers, Armando Martinez, said this week the Archdiocesan Cathedral will re-open when Mexico City officials have committed in writing to guaranteeing security at the church, where sympathizers of the Democratic Revolution Party recently engaged in violent protests.

After a meeting between representatives of the archdiocese and city officials, Martinez said the Cathedral would open when an agreement exists that is “in writing and signed by both city officials and the Episcopal Council of the Archdiocese, which is made up of the eight auxiliary bishops of Mexico City.”  This is because on other occasions, “when we have denounced the attacks against Cardinal Rivera, nothing happened, and although we saw a goodwill effort on the part of the Mexico City government, something in writing would speak much more clearly,” Martinez stated.

The meeting took place at the Cathedral, where officials reconstructed the events.  They promised to discuss a comprehensive security plan that would include the installation of closed-circuit cameras, security guards and additional police protection.

Likewise, Martinez confirmed that the archdiocese plans to file a lawsuit against the members of the PRD who committed the vandalism and that government officials would be presented with a surveillance video that shows exactly how the events unfolded and would enable officials to bring to justice those responsible for the unrest.

Martinez said the lawsuit would be based on a federal law forbidding discrimination, since the vandalism was motivated by “ideological persecution against those who were at the Cathedral.”  In addition, he called the violent protests an act of “religious intolerance, because those people entered here in response to the ideas of the cardinal.”

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Monument to Don Bosco inaugurated in “the most southern city in the world”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 22, 2007 (CNA) - A monument dedicated to Don Bosco has been built at Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world, as part of the celebrations for the beatification of Salesian Indian Ceferino Namuncura.

Missionary Service News (OMPRESS) said that the two-meter sculpture made of cement is the work of the pastor of the Church of Our Lady of Mercies in Ushuaia, Father Jose Ellero, and shows Don Bosco together with two boys and a girl.

The monument is located in front of the historic church built by Salesian missionaries and the Don Bosco Institute.  The inauguration ceremony was presided over by Salesian Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin of Rio Gallegos.

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