Archive of November 26, 2007

Four points on the church's teaching about homosexuality

Minneapolis, Minn., Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - I was pleased that Joe Towalski, editor of The Catholic Spirit, addressed the issue of the church's teaching on homosexuality, derived as it is from an understanding of the natural moral law, and the reason why those who promote homosexual activity or a homosexual lifestyle are not permitted to speak at Catholic institutions. 

I thought his presentation was balanced and quite helpful as far as it went. I propose this column as a sequel to his, in the sense of providing four footnotes, if you will, to the points he made:

• At their special assembly in Denver from June 14 to 19, 2004, just before the last presidential election, the U.S. bishops issued a document clarifying the role of Catholic politicians with respect to their stands on moral issues within the public arena.

This point was our collective resolve that Catholic churches, colleges and other institutions should not give "awards, honors or platforms" to persons who, whether Catholic or not, held public positions contrary to the church's defined teaching. To do so would cause scandal, leading Catholics to be confused about what is right and wrong according to the teachings of the church, prompting them to endorse or even to commit immoral behavior.

This is why it was not appropriate for Carol Curoe and her father to speak at the Church of St. Francis Cabrini in Minneapolis.

• Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin. They have broken communion with the church and are prohibited from receiving Holy Communion until they have had a conversion of heart, expressed sorrow for their action and received sacramental absolution from a priest. 

• The USCCB statement "Always Our Children" is not a normative teaching statement of the bishops' conference.  I, along with the majority of bishops at the time of its publication, never had the opportunity to discuss or vote on that document in general assembly. It was written by the Committee on Marriage and Family and, with the approval of the NCCB Administrative Committee, it was published in the committee's name only.
What is considered normative would be last year's document adopted by the USCCB general assembly and entitled "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclina¬tion: Guidelines for Pastoral Care." I urge you to read and study this document, which can be ordered at:

• Finally, while we can always do more to support persons with same-sex attractions to live chastely within the community of the church, there is much that is already being done but receives little attention.

Here in the archdiocese, we have, for 10 years now, had present the support groups, Faith in Action Courage and Encourage.

The former invites persons struggling with same-sex attractions into a regular support group of faith-filled individuals who are striving to live chastely according to the teachings of Jesus, by confronting their attractions, building healthy relationships and growing spiritually through the sacraments of penance and holy Eucharist. Much like the support groups of Alcoholics Anonymous, Courage seeks to foster a spirit of fellowship to ensure that a person knows he/she does not face personal difficulties alone. 

Encourage is a similar support group for parents, family members and friends of those with same-sex attractions who want to grow spiritually themselves and to help their loved ones live chastely. 

I had the privilege of initiating both chapters in the Archdiocese of Detroit 11 years ago. I have met many impressive and, I would say, heroic individuals through that movement. 

To contact Courage, call (651) 291-4438. To contact Encour¬age, call (651) 291-4438. All phone messages are confidential. More information is available at

As Joe Towalski said in his editorial, we must uphold the truth of our Catholic faith, which can often be quite challenging and demanding for any of us, while at the same time, welcoming into the community those who feel isolated and marginalized.

This is the same tension St. Augustine recognized of "hating the sin, but loving the sinner." It is a "careful line," but one that calls for conversion - a conversion that leads to eternal life. 

Printed with permission from the Catholic Spirit of Minneapolis-St. Paul.


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Meeting of the Holy Father and College of Cardinals

Vatican City, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - Before adding new members to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict held a meeting with its current members on the topic of ecumenism. With all of the cardinals gathered, the Pope introduced the theme he had chosen for the day's discussion, "ecumenical dialogue in the light of prayer and of the Lord's command: 'Ut unum sint' (That they may be one)."

Cardinal Walter Kasper then took the floor and provided a brief outline of the state of ecumenical relations dividing them into three main areas: “relations with the ancient Churches of the East; relations with the ecclesial communities that came into being in the wake of the Reformation; and lastly relations with the charismatic and Pentecostal movements that developed above all during last century."

Cardinal Kasper, who is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also presented "the results achieved in each of these fields, describing progress made to date and problems still outstanding."

After the results of recent ecumenical efforts were presented, the cardinals held an open discussion about the numerous situations that they have encountered and took care to discuss problems that they have run up against. Among these difficulties were: “the joint ecumenical commitment of Christians in the social and charitable fields,” and the defense of “moral values in the transformation of modern societies.”

The most promising area of progress, the cardinals noted, is “the Church's social doctrine and its implementation”.  Other areas that received support were the commitment to continue the 'purification of memory' and the use of forms of communication that “do not wound” the sensibility of other Christians.

"It was suggested that profound consideration be given to the possibilities for ecumenical development," in which context "recent and highly significant events were mentioned, such as the ecumenical assembly of Sibiu, Romania, the ecumenical and inter-religious meeting of Naples, Italy, the journey to Paris of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow, and the great ecumenical gatherings of ecclesial movements at Stuttgart, Germany."

Finally, "in the wider context, attention turned to relations with Judaism and to inter-religious dialogue."

"On the theme of ecumenism, further attention was given to questions such as collaboration among Christians of different confessions for the defense of the family in society and in legislative systems, and the importance of spiritual ecumenism and of personal relations with the faithful and with authorities of other Christian confessions.

"A number of the contributions touched on relations with the Jews and with Islam. Mention was made of the encouraging sign represented by the letter from 138 Muslim leaders and by the visit of the king of Saudi Arabia to the Pope."

"Following a brief reply from Cardinal Kasper on a number of specific points, the Holy Father delivered a concluding address, summing up what had been discussed. He thanked the cardinals for their participation and contributions and announced the forthcoming publication of his new Encyclical dedicated to the subject of hope, in response to the deepest expectations of our contemporaries."

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Pope asks cardinals’ families to pray for a solid communion

Vatican City, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - This morning Pope Benedict had a special request for the 23 new cardinals and their families and friends, who he received in Paul VI Hall, he asked for their prayers "that communion between pastors and the Pope may remain solid” as a testimony to the faithfulness of the Church to Christ.

"The consistory and yesterday's Eucharistic celebration," said the Pope, "have provided us with a unique opportunity to experience the catholicity of the Church, well represented by the varied origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, gathered in close communion around Peter's Successor."

In the ceremony where he created the new cardinals, the Holy Father also noted the new diversity of the Church saying, "[t]imes have changed and the great family of Christ's disciples has today spread to every continent, ... it speaks almost every language of the world and its members include people from all cultures.” He also said that this “providential growth” highlights “the changing pastoral requirements to which the Pope is called to respond."

Having greeted the new cardinals in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish, the Pope addressed them all together giving them assurances of his prayers and asking them always to accompany him with "your valuable human and pastoral experience.” "I place great reliance on your precious support in order to be able to carry out my ministry to the entire people of God," added Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father also enlisted the help of the families and friends of the new cardinals by asking them to continue praying for them and for him, "that communion between pastors and the Pope may remain solid, so as to present the whole world with the testimony of a Church faithful to Christ and ready to meet the spiritual hopes and needs of modern man with prophetic courage."

The assembled cardinals and family members were sent on their way with a message from Pope Benedict: "Returning to your dioceses, bear my greetings and the assurances of my constant prayers to the Lord. Upon you, dear cardinals, and upon everyone present here, I invoke the protection of the heavenly Mother of God and of the saintly Apostles Peter and Paul."

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New American cardinal reflects on red hat

, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo was officially raised to the cardinalate at a Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica Saturday, the Houston Chronicle reports.

 He discussed the honor at a news conference after the Mass.

"It is a distinctive honor, not just for Texas, but the whole South of the United States, and certainly for Houston," the new cardinal said. "We are proud of it, that the first cardinal ever in the South has been named. It is [an] honor, [a] responsibility and pretty humbling for this kid from Pittsburgh."

Cardinal DiNardo, originally from Pittsburgh, was ordained a priest there.  He spent six years working at the Vatican in the Congregation for Bishops, and in 1997 was named bishop of Sioux City, Iowa.  He was appointed archbishop of Galveston-Houston by Pope John Paul II in 2004.

During the Mass for the 23 new cardinals, Cardinal DiNardo, 58, climbed the white marble steps to the altar of Saint Peter's Basilica.  Kneeling before Pope Benedict XVI, he was given a red skullcap called a zucchetto.  Pope Benedict also placed a three-pointed biretta, colloquially called a "red hat," on Cardinal DiNardo's head. 

The cardinal later described the experience from his perspective, saying "I wanted to be very composed in terms of the sacred moment, but I have to admit at the very moment he put it on, my zucchetto was falling off," Cardinal DiNardo said after the Mass. "I had to push it back up. But once I stood up, he had a great smile, and he said, 'Peace of the Lord be with you.' And his smile and his encouragement were a great moment for me."

When the Pope called Archbishop DiNardo's name, a crowd of Texans cheered and applauded.  More than 500 travelers from the Houston area were present.

"I think Houston had the biggest" cheer, said Greg Friend of Spring, Texas, who was in the basilica for the first time with his wife, Beth. "I'm pretty sure we were the loudest."

At the news conference after the Mass Cardinal DiNardo discussed the state of the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston and his experience there. Describing the area's cultural diversity as "happy chaos," he said that celebrating the rich diversity of his flock was one challenge facing the archdiocese.

Cardinal DiNardo saw the red hat as a symbol unifying that diversity, saying "the unity of the faith with the Holy Father is also extremely crucial if you are going to keep all this working."

At a reception after the news conference, the cardinal spent nearly two hours greeting Houston-area faithful, shaking hands, exchanging hugs, and posing for photos.

One group of Spanish speaking Texans periodically burst into cheers as they progressed through the reception line.  "Se ve, se siente, DiNardo está presente," they chanted.  This translates to "You see it, you feel it, DiNardo is present."

As a cardinal, DiNardo will serve as an advisor to the Pope and a papal elector in an election choosing the successor to Pope Benedict.  He is also assigned a parish in Rome to be its titular head.  The cardinal said he would not take immediate possession of his titular church, St. Eusebius.

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Tony Blair talks about his “hugely important” faith

London, England, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently spoke of his religious beliefs on a BBC television program that surveyed his years in office.

Mr. Blair said he didn't talk about his faith while in office because he didn't want people to think of him as "a nutter."  However, he said his religion was "hugely important" to him in office.  He said his faith helped him cope with the pressures of tough decisions, including sending British troops into Iraq. 

Without the strength of faith, he said "it's difficult to do the job" of prime minister. 

The former prime minister said he avoided discussing his religious beliefs because open discussion of religious conviction is not as common in Britain as it is in other countries.

Mr. Blair is a member of the Church of England, but also frequently attends Catholic services with his Catholic wife, Cherie.  Many rumors and reports have claimed Mr. Blair is considering converting to Catholicism, especially now that he does not face the legal restrictions a Catholic prime minister could face.


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Police abuse rolling priest and protestors in India

New Dehli, India, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - A Catholic priest protesting an unfinished bridge construction project was beaten by a police officer Wednesday in the Kerala town of Alappuzha.

Father Edward Puthanpurackal was beaten and pushed down while protesting the lack of progress on Chethi Bridge, which has been unfinished for 19 years.  He was accosted by an officer who was a deputy superintendent of police.

The priest and the protestors had developed a new protesting tactic by rolling their bodies on the road.  Police told them not to roll on the road, and arrested those who did so.

Father Puthanpurackal is the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) Director of Alappuzha Diocese.  Six other KCYM officers and members in the protest were also beaten and arrested. 

The Vijayapuram Catholic Diocesan Council condemned the beating and arrest of Father Edward Puthanpurackal and his fellow activists.  KCYM organized a protest of the police beatings with a rally near a police station.

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Mexico cathedral closed by protesting mob reopens

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Mexican capital's cathedral reopened on Saturday under police guard almost a week after it shut its doors when leftist protesters disrupted a Mass, Reuters reports.

It was the first time the 400-year-old cathedral had closed since the start of the "Cristero" war in the 1920s, in which Catholics fought federal authorities over an anti-clerical campaign by the government after the Mexican Revolution.

Last Sunday the tolling of the church bells angered some of those attending a rally outside the church.  A mob burst into the cathedral, tearing down railings and overturning pews.

Tensions have risen between Church leaders and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) since the party narrowly lost last year's presidential election to the conservative National Action Party, which is seen as close to the Church.

The Church has also opposed the PRD over recent Mexico City laws to legalize abortion and to instate homosexual civil unions.  Mexico's top churchman, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said last month he had received death threats from members of the party.

More than 30 policemen will guard the cathedral and 30 video cameras will be installed to monitor the premises, Mexico City police chief Joel Ortega said.

During church services, 46 police will be present at the cathedral and four patrol cars will monitor the surrounding area. Police will also conduct searches of any bags that people bring into the church. 

"The biggest symbol for us Catholics is reopening, this is very important for us," churchgoer David Paz told local radio station Formato 21.

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New Iraqi cardinal: "pray for us, pray for Iraq"

Vatican City, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - At a Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica on Saturday elevating twenty-three clerics to the cardinalate, Pope Benedict XVI created the first Iraqi cardinal, VOA News reports.

The Pope expressed special concern for all Iraqis in his sermon.  He said that by calling the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church Emmanuel Delly to the College of Cardinals he wanted to express his spiritual closeness and affection for the Iraqi people.  He called for the Church to reaffirm her solidarity with Iraqi Christians and asked God to bring peace and reconciliation to all Iraqis.

After the Mass, Cardinal Delly told well-wishers in Saint Peter's Square that it was a very happy day for him and "for all people, especially for Iraq."  He repeated the Pope's call for prayer, saying "pray for us, pray for Iraq and for [the] population of Iraq."

The Chaldeans, who have one of the most ancient rites of the Church, are Iraq's largest Christian group but their numbers are in decline.   Many Iraqi Christians have fled the country since the war began in 2003 to escape the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.  Several Iraqi churches have been bombed and priests have been among those kidnapped and killed.

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Public expo of Holy Shroud a fabrication, says Archbishop of Turin

, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto, has denied reports in the press about a supposed public exposition of the Holy Shroud to take place at the end of the decade.

“This is news invented by the press,” the cardinal told reporters, referring to a story in the Turin daily “La Stampa” which said the expo would take place in 2009, and a story in “La Repubblica” which said it would be held in 2010.

Cardinal Poletto also denied reports that a date for the expo would be decided after the consistory of cardinals held in Rome this past weekend.

The last time the Shroud was publicly displayed was in the year 2000, as part of the Jubilee Year.

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Liturgical abuses help to explain Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio

, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, said this week the liturgical abuses and lack of respect for the norms of the ordinary rite of the Mass help to explain why Pope Benedict XVI decided to “liberalize” the liturgical celebrations according to the rite of St. Pius V.

Last July, the Holy Father published the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum permitting universal use of the Missal of St. Pius V, which was used by the Church for centuries and was revised by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

Archbishop Ranjith noted that “throughout the years, the liturgy suffered too many abuses that were ignored by the bishops,” and therefore “Benedict XVI could not remain silent.”

According to the Vatican official, the opposition between “traditionalists and innovators” makes no sense in the Church, where “a continuous line exists.”

Referring to the so-called Tridentine Mass, Archbishop Ranjith said requests for the ancient rite “were increasing over time” in direct proportion to the “lack of fidelity and the loss of the sense of beauty” in the liturgy.

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Spanish government’s “gestures” towards the Church could be “pre-electoral thawing”

Madrid, Spain, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The chair of Canon Law at Madrid’s Compultense University, Rafael Navarro-Valls, said this week the Socialist government’s gestures towards the Church could lead to a “pre-electoral thawing,” and he encouraged the faithful “not to let down their guard” at a “moment of transition” like the upcoming elections in early 2008.

According to the weekly bulleting, Alba, during a speech at the Congress on Catholics and Public Life, Navarro-Valls referred to gestures that the Socialist government has made to the Church in Spain, such as the acceptance of religious persecution in the Law on Historic Memory, the sending of vice president Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega to the ceremony of elevation of three new Spanish cardinals at the Vatican, the reversal of a decision to denounce the accords with the Holy See, as well as the sending of a delegation to the beatification of 498 Spanish martyrs at the Vatican.

“This does not mean this is not a tactic,” Navarro-Valls warned.  There still exists an “evident and unjust discrimination” in the field of education, he noted, resulting in the persecution of those “who oppose the existence of an education that is akin to indoctrination.”

During his remarks, Navarro-Valls reaffirmed the need of the State and the Church “to recover its essences” in response to the extremes of excessive division or union between Church and State, and he defended the independence of the State and the religious freedom of the Church against such “perversions” as “fanaticism and fundamentalism or secularism: politics without morality.”

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Catholic NGOs to meet at the Vatican to reflect on their work

, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - In order to mark the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Populorum Progressio, more than one hundred delegates from various Catholic NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) will meet at the Vatican to participate in the second World Congress of ecclesial organizations that work for justice and peace.

The meeting of Catholic NGOs, which include those that have the important status of observers at the United Nations, will take place November 30-December 2.

The Congress will be entitled, “The Holy See and Catholic-inspired NGOs: Presence, Impact, Difficulties and Challenges in the International Arena.”

According to the program, participants will include Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See’s UN Observer Archbishop Celestino Migliore and Archbishop Andre Dupuy, papal nuncio to the European Community.

Among the NGOs expected to attend include Caritas International, the Institute for Family Policy from Spain and the Society for the Protection of the Unborn from the United Kingdom.

Participants will have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, December 1.  The closing of the event will be led by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.

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New director for Vatican newspaper

, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The recent naming of Catholic intellectual Giovanni Maria Vian as the new director of L’Osservatore Romano, means the opening of a new era for the Vatican publication, which will include its complete publication online.

L’Osservatore Romano was founded in 1861 at the request of Pope Pius IX in order to give a public voice to the Vatican, just months after the Pontifical states were lost in the wake of Italian unification.

The Vatican daily, which is currently published daily in Italian, has a limited circulation of around 3,000, with only about 1,000 actually sold. The actual impact of the paper is much larger though because it reflects the position of the Vatican on critical issues.

Although the Vatican daily will never be profitable, as it rarely prints ads, Vian has proposed not only creating greater interest in the newspaper but also expanding its readership.

The day after becoming director, Vian instituted a significant change in the format and content of the newspaper: pages two and three, usually full of Italian news, have become international pages, with Italy covered as just another country.

More importantly, the new director has begun providing space for extensive opinion articles by renowned experts addressing such sensitive subjects as the future of the liturgy, the dialogue between faith and culture and the reform of the curia.

One such article by Valentin Miserach Grau, current president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, criticized the state of liturgical music at the Vatican.

Vian has also allowed international analysts of L’Osservatore Romano to sign their own articles, a decision that has pleased the paper’s editors and motivated them to work harder.

According to Vatican sources, the refurbished newspaper has the support of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

In addition, while editors prepare to publish the complete newspaper online, Vian has begun sending articles out via email to subscribers and to the editors of the principal Italian news agencies in Rome.

Although there are currently no plans to make changes to the weekly editions in other languages, sources at L’Osservatore Romano are looking into the possibility of translating these opinion columns into English and Spanish. The idea of publishing some of the articles online that are not normally featured in the weekly editions has also been floated.

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Annapolis summit, an opportunity that can't be missed, Cardinal DiNardo says

, Nov 26, 2007 (CNA) - The recently created Cardinal Daniel N.DiNardo has said in an interview that both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to treat tomorrow's Annapolis peace summit as an “opportunity that cannot be missed”.

In an interview to be published in tomorrow's daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who was made a cardinal this past Saturday, said that the Church in the US is responding to the Pope’s call to pray for the fruits of the Annapolis summit. The conference will bring together Jews, Palestinians and Syrians for peace talks.

DiNardo related that, “parish communities as well as individual Catholics are praying, at the request of the bishops, so that the summit will become a concrete opportunity for peace between the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.”

Cardinal DiNardo said that prayer “has a great value, especially for the future. We have been called to persevere in prayer, trusting in God our hope for peace to come in the next weeks and months.  We hope that the conference of Annapolis may promote further fruitful dialogues for peace in the region.”

During the interview, Cardinal DiNardo also said that his appointment as cardinal was received “with gratitude, stun and surprise. For Texas it has been a great joy, which crowns the explosive growth of the local Church in the last 20 years.”

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