Archive of December 13, 2007

Catholic Foundation appoints Gerald ‘Bud’ Laber as president

Denver, Colo., Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Foundation for the Roman Catholic Church in Northern Colorado, an independent nonprofit corporation dedicated to helping Catholics serve others locally, regionally and worldwide, has announced today that Gerald “Bud” Laber has been appointed president of the organization.
"Bud Laber is an extraordinary addition to the Catholic Foundation,” said Mark G. Bauman, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “Bud’s passion for the work of the Church, coupled with his extensive business and non-profit experience, combine to make him the ideal person to lead the Foundation.”
Laber retired as an audit partner with Arthur Andersen in 2000 after nearly 33 years. In addition to his career, Laber has been on the board of trustees of Regis Jesuit High School since 1990 and was Chair from 1998 to 2006. Additionally, he is a member of the board of directors of Catholic Charities and is chair of the finance council of the Church of the Risen Christ parish. Laber is a member of the Knights of Columbus and of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchere, is on the board of trustees of the University of South Dakota Foundation and is a member of the University Hills Rotary club. He is a past member and chair of the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of Denver. 
A graduate of the University of South Dakota, Laber has been married to his wife Alice for 42 years and is the proud father of five and grandfather of eight.
“I am honored to join the Catholic Foundation and further its mission to serve the Catholic community,” Laber said. “This organization has made a significant difference in the Church in northern Colorado, and I look forward to contributing to its future success.”  
The Catholic Foundation helps Catholics live a life of service to others and fulfill the universal mission of the Catholic Church locally, regionally, and internationally. By providing philanthropic services customized to each donor’s needs, the Foundation assists donors in ensuring a promising financial future for Catholic activities across northern Colorado. The Foundation has provided assistance for almost a decade. Foundation donors provide long-term financial support to parishes, schools and various charitable entities. Since its inception in 1998, the Foundation has provided more than $40 million to charitable, religious, and educational institutions.
The Foundation’s primary activities are providing donor and endowment services, and grant making in the Catholic community of northern Colorado. The areas served by the Foundation consist of the following Colorado counties: Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Routt, Eagle, Pitkin, Jackson, Grand, Summit, Larimer, Boulder, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Jefferson, Weld, Morgan, Adams, Denver, Arapahoe, Logan, Washington, Sedgewick, Phillips and Yuma.


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St. Peter’s Square to be illuminated by massive Christmas tree

Vatican City, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Tomorrow evening St. Peter’s Square will be lit with the glow of a fully adorned Christmas tree from northern Italy. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, will preside at the official lighting ceremony of the tree which was recently erected in St. Peter's Square. The tree stands next to the nativity scene, which is in the process of being constructed.

The lighting is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., with civil and religious authorities from the region of Bolzano in northern Italy which donated this year's tree in attendance. The towering 140-year-old fir is 26 meters high, weighs more than three tons and is decked out with 2,000 ornaments.

The nativity scene, which will be unveiled on the evening of December 24, has seventeen life-size statues. Of these, nine are the original figures donated by St. Vincent Pallotti for the nativity scene in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842. The other eight figures were added over the course of the years. As in 2006, the Italian province of Trento has provided further sculpted wooden figures and animals, as well as household utensils for the depiction of daily life.

From December 19 to February 2, the Paul VI Hall will also be adorned with a tree and a nativity scene created by Mexican artists. The figures of the nativity scene are in the Novo Hispanic Baroque style, while the tree decorations are the work of Mexican traditional craftsmen. The nativity scene in St. Peter's Square will also include four Mexican Baroque angels.

The initiative, entitled "Mexican Christmas in the Vatican," has been organized to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Holy See. The display marks the first time a Latin American country has contributed to the decoration of the Vatican. The display will be inaugurated by Benedict XVI on Wednesday, December 19.


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World Youth Day 2008 “blueprints” finalized

Sydney, Australia, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Operational plans for World Youth Day 2008 have been approved by the Pontifical Council of the Laity, the Vatican body overseeing preparations.

Twenty three separate events are planned between July 15 and July 20 for the international youth gathering.  The largest event will be the final Mass for an estimated 500,000 people at Randwick Racecourse and nearby Centennial Parklands.

The coordinator of the Sydney event, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, said members of the Pontifical Council of the Laity (PCL) were briefed on 17,000 pages of plans.

“The PCL were extremely positive and even made some helpful suggestions,” Bishop Fisher said from Rome.

“We now have a final blueprint for staging the world’s biggest youth event in Sydney next year.”

Bishop Fisher said that World Youth Day 2008 would meet its target of 125,000 international visitors.  Statistics show that at present the United States, Italy, and Germany are providing the most overseas pilgrims.

World Youth Day is a Catholic-organized event open to everyone.  It aims to help young people build bridges of friendship and hope between peoples, cultures, and continents.

The Sydney event will mark the first visit to Australia by Pope Benedict XVI.

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Catholic health workers’ effort to unionize could crowd out Catholics

Santa Rosa, Calif., Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - A complex labor dispute between a Californian Catholic healthcare company and its employees could end in an agreement with a union that promotes homosexual rights, the California Catholic Daily reports.

Workers in Santa Rosa have rallied for a “fair election agreement” with the St. Joseph Health System.  The agreement would allow workers to vote on whether to unionize.

St. Joseph Health System was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, California.  They insist that they will permit for their workers only a structure created by the National Labor Relations Board, which makes unionization more difficult.

St. Joseph Health System has been accused of various labor law violations, including the intimidation of employees.  The employees are supported by United Healthcare Workers (UHW), a powerful union led by Sal Roselli. 

In 1984-85, Roselli was president of a Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club.  A grand marshal for the 2006 San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade, Roselli has introduced domestic partner compensation into the UHW member benefits.

A political activist in Sacramento, who requested anonymity, told the California Catholic Daily that Roselli’s union is trying to become the exclusive bargaining agent for some St. Joseph employees. 

“This is a very contentious union, and if they get what they want, there will be a full homosexualization of everything. Domestic partner benefits and the like will come from worker dues, and the full muscle of the union will be put behind the homosexual agenda,” the activist said.

The activist alleged that allowing UHW into St. Joseph’s, the Catholic health provider “would be agreeing, in effect, to fire any Catholic who does not agree to support the Culture of Death with his dues. The average nurse pays around $1,000 a year in dues for this, and that money goes to supporting candidates and propositions that support abortion and homosexuality. What kind of Catholic institution would agree to this for their employees?”

The activist said the UHW takeover would be a “done deal” if the employees’ demand for a fair election agreement were met.

Monsignor John Brenkle, a prominent figure in the Santa Rosa diocese, supported the agreement.  In a May 11 editorial for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, he wrote: 

“…sadly, I see a real disconnect between the St. Joseph Health System’s written code and its actions. Management has employed legal counsel for the purpose of union-avoidance tactics … Some of us have urged the system to negotiate ground rules that are mutually agreed upon to ensure a free and fair election process.”

Monsignor Brenkle said a working paper of the Catholic bishops, “A Fair and Just Workplace: Principles and Practices for Catholic Health Care,” could be used as a model for unionizing efforts.

According to the California Catholic Daily, Monsignor Brinkle spoke to the paper in October about his offer of a dinner with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as part of a fundraising auction for a parish school.  Reportedly, he was not willing to talk to the paper about his support for the unionization of health workers.

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Benedict XVI expresses solidarity with besieged Venezuelan cardinal

Caracas, Venezuela, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has sent a brief letter to the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, in which he expresses his “closeness and solidarity in this unfortunate circumstance,” after the attack by Chavez sympathizers against the cardinal on December 7.
In the letter which was made public yesterday on the website of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference and dated December 9, 2007, the Holy Father said, “Having learned with alarm the news of the aggression suffered by your Eminence from a violent group on December 7, I wish to express to you my sincere closeness and solidarity in this unfortunate circumstance, and at the same time I wish to assure you a special place in my prayers, to sustain you and encourage you in the faithful fulfillment of your pastoral mission.”
“As a sign of consolation and esteem, I cordially impart to you the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the pastors and the faithful of this beloved nation,” the Pope said in conclusion.
On December 7, a group of some fifteen Chavez sympathizers harassed the cardinal as he left is residence.  “When I left my residence in my car with my driver, I was violently verbally and physically assaulted, although I was not hit.  Only my car was damaged,” the cardinal revealed in a letter to his fellow bishops.

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Benedict XVI tells nations: Restore hope by overcoming violence with dialogue

Vatican City, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict held an unusually large audience today as he received seven new ambassadors to the Holy See from various countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He used the occasion to call upon all public officials to do everything in their power to restore hope to the people they rule. The pontiff said this must be done by overcoming violence with dialogue and educating people in human and moral values.

The Holy Father told the diplomats that their role is “particularly important in today's world, in order to show that in all situations of international life, dialogue must overcome violence, and the desire for peace and fraternity must prevail over contrasts and selfishness that lead[s] only to tensions”. 

Benedict said that through these ambassadors he wished to “launch a fresh call to everyone who plays a role in public life and to those who participate in governing nations, to do everything in their power to restore hope to the peoples they rule.”

The Pope also provided them with a rough sketch of how to restore hope to their citizens. He explained that governments must bear in mind “their deepest aspirations so that everyone may benefit from the profits of the natural and economic resources of his or her country, in accordance with the principles of justice and equity."

Most importantly though, Pope Benedict emphasized that societies should invest in young people who "are a country's greatest wealth" and that their "integral education" is "a fundamental necessity."

While more secular societies tend to focus only on technical and academic training for their youth, Benedict XVI insisted that this is “not enough”, and that it is important "to promote education based on human and moral values." This will ensure that young people "may occupy their rightful place in the development of the nation," having been given an "awareness of the needs of others."

Education is indispensable for fighting “the desperation that can take root in the hearts of young people” and the lack of it “lies at the base of many individual or collective acts of violence,” the Pope said.  Efforts must be made “with the help of international institutions involved in eradicating illiteracy," to increase young people’s hope, he insisted.

The Holy Father completed his address by pointing out that the Catholic Church, "through her various educational institutions, is in the frontline alongside men and women of good will, in the field of the integral formation of the young."

The diplomats received by Pope Benedict XVI are: Chaiyong Satjipanon of Thailand, Alain Butler-Payette of Seychelles, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi of Namibia, Elizabeth Ya Eli Harding of Gambia, Urmila Joella- Sewnundun of Suriname, Barry Desker of Singapore, and Suhail Khalil Shuhaiber of Kuwait.

The Pope addressed the diplomats as a group before greeting them individually and handing each a written copy of a speech concerning the specific situation in his or her own country.

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Priest prays, not pays, for parking fine

Santiago, Chile, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - A judge in southern Chile sentenced a Catholic priest to recite seven psalms daily for three months as a punishment for illegal parking.

Judge Manuel Perez said he issued the sentence after Father Jose Cornejo said he could not pay the usual $100 fine for illegal parking.  Father Cornejo said he had parked in front of the school where he works because he lacked the money for public parking, according to the Associated Press.

Judge Perez told a Chilean newspaper that his sentencing decision was a tribute to Galileo Galilei, the Renaissance scientist who received a similar three-year sentence for saying the Earth rotates around the sun.

The judge ordered a court official who lives near the priest to check daily that the sentence is being fulfilled.

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Mexico celebrates Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexico City, Mexico, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Mexico City on Wednesday to celebrate the 476th anniversary of the apparition of the Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, the Associated Press reports.

Celebrants set off fireworks, sang and prayed inside the packed Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  The celebration included ethnic dancers from around Mexico as crowds of people carried large posters of the Virgin’s image to be blessed inside the church.

The Virgin’s miraculous image on the tilma or cloak of St. Juan Diego helped convert millions Mexican natives to Christianity after the conquest of the Spaniards.  St. Juan Diego, the first Indian saint, was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

Gerardo Romero, 23, crawled in devotion on his hands and knees through the large courtyard in front of the basilica.  `I'm doing it so that my daughter will be born healthy,'' he said, explaining his actions.

"I am giving thanks for everything the Virgin has given us all year,'' added Trinidad Manuel Garcia, 70, a Mexico City native dressed in the garb of his Indian Mexica ancestors. Garcia said he has made the pilgrimage every year since 1949.

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Sydney enacts strict laws for World Youth Day

Sydney, Australia, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Strict emergency laws will be in force during the World Youth Day events in 2008, tightening security and banning unapproved advertisements near event venues, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Under the World Youth Day Amendment Bill, passed last week by the State Parliament of New South Wales, authorities will have the power to conduct body searches, confiscate vehicles, and evict people from World Youth Day events.  The law permits private buses to be commandeered to transport pilgrims, while police and other officials will even have control of air space and unauthorized advertising.

The laws restricting advertising protects commercial agreements between the Church and event sponsors by restricting advertising around World Youth Day venues.  Similar restrictions were in place for the 2000 Olympics and the Grand Prix in Victoria.

The new laws will be administered by the specially created World Youth Day Coordination Authority, which is not affiliated with the Catholic Church.  Under the law, this authority and its minister, Deputy Premier John Watkins, is supreme and cannot be "challenged, reviewed quashed or called into question" in court.

The Australian Parliament’s Legislative Review Committee has warned about the authority’s potential for injustice.  It specifically criticized the increased application of body and property searches an "inappropriate delegation of legislative power."

A spokesman for the World Youth Day Co-ordination Authority said: "A decision about who will be provided with this authority has not yet been determined but [those officials] will be kept to a minimum and be fully disclosed by regulation."

Green Party minister of parliament Lee Rhiannon voted for the bill but said it was "a step too far."  Shee thought the government’s plans to censor advertising were made to help the Church fulfill agreements with commercial sponsors, which she called “staggering.”

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Bethlehem grottos open extended hours to mark Franciscan anniversary

Jerusalem, Israel, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - In order to celebrate the 660th anniversary of the presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land, the Bethlehem grottos have been opened for extended hours.

The Franciscans in the Holy Land said that starting the First Sunday of Advent, the Church of Saint Catherine, the Milk Grotto, the Shepherd’s Field, and other places will remain open continuously throughout the day from 8am to 5pm.

“One of the priorities of the Friars of the Custody is the care of pilgrims.  The decision not to close the shrines at midday is a sign of this service. In recent months there has been an increase in the number of pilgrims from all over the world,” the Franciscans said in a press release.

The press release also points out that “the security wall, with the Israeli check point, often causes delays for some groups traveling to Bethlehem.  The extended hours at the shrine are also intended to address problems caused by the security situation in the birthplace of the Savior.”

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German authorities consider outlawing Scientology

Madrid, Spain, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Government officials in Germany announced they will seek to outlaw Scientology in the country, saying it is incompatible with the German constitution and calling it a “psycho-sect” seeking “the absolute repression of the individual.”

According to an article in the Spanish daily “La Razon”, Scientology is not even among the 35 most practiced faiths in Germany. The latest round of controversy surrounding the institution founded in 1953 by American writer L. Ron Hubbard has led to questions of whether or not Scientology is contrary to democracy.

The announcement came after a two-day conference of interior ministers of Germany's 16 states as well as federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Berlin Interior Minister Erhart Koerting, who presided over the two-day conference, told reporters that Scientology is an organization that is not compatible with the German constitution.

The promoter of the initiative, Udo Nagel, denounced Scientology as a “psycho-sect” that seeks “the absolute repression of the individual.”

Scientology is not considered an official religion under German law, but rather a mere organization.  However, it does enjoy official status in other European countries such as Spain.

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Vatican holds spiritual movie festival

, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications will host the 11th Festival of Spiritual Movies dubbed “Tertio Millennio”, in Rome from December 11 to 16.

The first festival was held in 1997 and was attended by Pope John Paul II, who at that time said about films that “this communications tool can also have a teaching function, by helping the human person to know the universal values present in the different cultures and helping him to perceive the legitimate differences by the means of the exchange of gifts. … Films when used well, can contribute to the growth of a true humanism and, in the end, to the glory that rises from the created towards the Creator”.
Between December 11 and 16, twelve films are being exhibited at the Trevi Theatre in Rome, some of which are being screened for the first time.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, “the films have been selected for their capacity to bring the attention of the public to some dramas that have affected humanity in the past or at present.”

Among the movies exhibited at this year’s festival, which will showcase the largest number of non-Italian films thus far, is a work from the noted Russian Director Aleksandr Sokurov. He is presenting his film “Aleksandra”, which is about the drama of the civil war in Chechnya from a woman’s perspective.

Another relevant movie is “A Big Heart” from director Michael Winterbottom, which brings to the screen the drama of Mariane Pearl, the widow of the Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by radical Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002.

Two other documentaries bring the dramas of war and famine to the attention of the public: “Piedi per Terra” (Feet on Earth) and “The Devil Came on Horseback”. The first addresses the daily struggle of Italian volunteer Amanda Sandrelli in her effort to find families for war orphans in Malawi; while the second is the yet unpublished testimony of an U.S. Marine about the drama of Darfur in Sudan.

The film festival started on the 11th with the conference “Identity in Today’s World,” delivered by Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, President of the Foundation sponsoring the festival, followed by remarks from Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi and Claudio Maria Celli, respectively the Presidents of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Council for Social Communications.

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Pope Benedict expresses concern over spread of AIDS, trafficking of women and children

Vatican City, Dec 13, 2007 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict issued a “fresh call” to public officials calling on them to help restore the hope of people around the world through education in moral and human values and resorting to dialogue instead of violence to solve disputes. The Pope went on to raise particular areas where hope is threatened in the diplomats’ respective countries.

The Holy Father made his remarks to new ambassadors arriving at the Vatican from Thailand, Namibia, Singapore, Kuwait, Seychelles, Gambia and Suriname.

In his written remarks to the Thai ambassador, the Pope expresses his concern over "the scourge of AIDS, prostitution and the trafficking of women and children which continue to afflict the countries of the region."

The cause of these afflictions is, according to the Holy Father, "the decline in moral values, fueled by the trivialization of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries, [which] leads to the degradation of women and even the abuse of children.”

Given “the complexity of this unspeakable human exploitation”, the Pope said that “a concerted international response" is necessary.

On a related note, Benedict XVI told the ambassador from Namibia, Africa that the Church’s teaching on marriage as “the total, reciprocal and exclusive communion of love between a man and a woman,” is a sure way to promote behaviors that effectively prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Another obstacle to hope addressed by Benedict, was the suppression of “the universal rights to life and to religious freedom.” The pontiff praised Singapore’s “commitment to initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue, respect and cooperation between different religious groups, of particular importance in view of the diverse ethnic and religious affiliation of your population."

Kuwait also serves as a model for overcoming violence with dialogue according to the Pope. “[Y]our country, which has overcome the devastating effects of violence and war, continues to play an important role in the delicate process of reconciliation which offers the only sure hope for a resolution of the many complex problems affecting the Middle East", the Holy Father said.


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