Archive of December 18, 2007

Faithful Bay Area radio station goes on the air in San Francisco

San Francisco, Calif., Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - At noon on Monday, December 10, Immaculate Heart Radio began broadcasting in San Francisco on 1260 AM. Though already broadcasting in several California cities, Immaculate Heart Radio’s expansion to San Francisco makes it the first Catholic radio station to cover the dioceses of San Francisco, San Jose, and most of Monterey and Santa Rosa.

A non-profit lay apostolate founded by its president Doug Sherman, Immaculate Heart Radio is dedicated to spreading “the knowledge, love and practice of the Roman Catholic Faith by means of radio.” It offers programming that is primarily catechetical in nature, but it also features devotional and inspirational shows. Besides carrying many of EWTN’s shows, Immaculate Heart Radio features “Catholic Answers Live,” regular broadcasts of the Mass and the rosary, as well as popular priests such as Fathers John Corapi, Frank Pavone, and Mitch Pacwa.

Sherman started Immaculate Heart Radio in 1997 with his first station, KIHM, in Reno, Nevada. At that time, there were only seven full-time Catholic stations in the U.S., compared to more than 1,600 Protestant stations. Today, IHM has 20 stations in California, Nevada, and New Mexico.

In its mission statement, Immaculate Heart Radio proclaims “an absolute faithfulness to the Holy Father and the Bishops in union with him. We are bound to accurately and fully transmit the Faith as proposed by the Teaching Authority of the Church. We are specifically bound by the vehicle in which it is proposed for our time, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We hold everything we broadcast up to the Catechism as its standard. These qualities shape our service to the faithful in the several dioceses in which we broadcast, our obedience to the bishops of those dioceses, and our assistance to local priests and religious.”

While Sherman is passionate about delivering solid Catholic programming to the faithful, he is equally determined to reach non-believers through the airwaves. “I have heard from people who told me that Immaculate Heart Radio brought them closer to God ... or back to the Church ... or back to the Sacraments ... or into the Church for the first time,” he said in a press release. “I have heard from people who have been away from the Church for twenty or thirty years ... or longer! I’ve heard from people who were on the verge of suicide ... until our programming gave them hope and a reason to live.”

Sherman’s plans include getting California’s bishops on the air. “Soon we will begin local programming, including ‘The Bishop's Hour,’ which will highlight the great work of the Church and laity in the Bay Area, and give the Bay Area bishops an opportunity to use the radio to reach their flock,” said Sherman.

Immaculate Heart Radio is listener supported, and all donations are tax deductible.

Original story can be found at California Catholic Daily.

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Pope Benedict will not visit Holy Land, Vatican spokesman says

Vatican City, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - Vatican officials said Monday that a papal visit to the Holy Land would not take place due to a variety of reasons, which include conflicts with the Israeli government over policies detrimental to Christians in the region.

Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi, at a reporters’ briefing on Monday, said that Pope Benedict XVI had on many occasions expressed his desire to travel to the Holy Land.  Lombardi said both the need for general peace in the area and relations between the Church and local authorities would need to be considered to determine if there were “positive signs” for a papal visit.

A high-ranking Vatican cleric who had participated in recent talks with the Israelis addressed the same briefing.  Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, secretary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, said that some problems with the Israeli government remained unresolved.

Archbishop Veglio said that Vatican-Israeli discussions rarely passed beyond generalities.

"As long as we talk about God, about peace, the promotion of the rights of women and other human rights, it is easy to reach agreement. But when we start discussing the details, and I refer in particular to the issue of taxes, then differences emerge," Archbishop Veglio said.

There is a long-standing dispute between the Vatican and the state of Israel over the taxation of Church property in the Holy Land, which includes not only churches and shrines but also hospitals and schools. 

Israel also has strict limits on visas for priests and nuns, especially those from Arab countries.  Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land, said such restrictions are very burdensome.
"A third of our people, a proportion which is falling fast, incidentally, come from Arab lands. However, getting an Arab priest into the Holy Land has become virtually impossible," he said.
Father Pizzaballa also described "the great suffering" of Israel's 170,000-strong Christian community, given political, economic and social problems in the region.

The Custodian is in charge of Catholic friars across the Middle East and coordinates the reception of pilgrims in the Holy Land.

“Dealing with Israel is not easy,” Archbishop Veglio said.  He added that relations with Israel remained cordial.

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Italian six-year-old takes next step towards sainthood

Vatican City, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - An Italian girl who died of cancer at the age of six and a half could soon become one of the youngest saints canonized in recent years.

On Monday Pope Benedict XVI signed papers confirming the “heroic virtues” of Antonietta Meo, who was born in Rome in 1930.

According to Vatican Radio, Meo, nicknamed “Nennolinia,” was a cheerful girl who was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of five and as a result had to have a leg amputated.  She accepted her fate and, wearing a heavy prosthetic leg, continued to play with the other children at her kindergarten. 

She wrote many prayers in the form of letters which, according to Vatican experts, reveal a “truly extraordinary life of mystical union” with God.  In one of the letters she wrote: “Dear baby Jesus, you are holy, you are good. Help me, grant me your grace and give me back my leg. If you don't want to, then may your will be done.”

Meo died on July 3, 1937.

Church authorities are generally cautious about proclaiming young children saints.  But in 1981 the head of the Vatican Congregation for Saints said “'It is possible to speak of a human being being precocious in their sense of good and evil.”

Other young Italian saints canonized in recent decades include St. Domenico Savio, a former student of St. John Bosco who died before his 15th birthday, and St. Maria Goretti, who died in 1902 at the age of eleven after resisting a would-be rapist.  St. Maria Goretti forgave her attacker on her deathbed, and later appeared to him in a dream.

If canonized, Antonietta Meo would be the youngest canonized saint who did not die as a martyr.

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Vatican asks Brazilian bishop to immediately end hunger strike

Vatican City, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy See, through the Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil, has asked Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio of the Diocese of Barra to end “as soon as possible” the hunger strike he has been carrying out for 18 days.

Bishop Cappio began a hunger strike in protest against a decision by the government to divert the San Francisco River, which crosses the semi-arid region of Brazil, in order to bring water to northeastern Brazil, which is plagued by constant drought.

Recently, the bishop said he would continue his hunger strike until “the project is definitively cancelled…or until the ultimate consequences.”  However, this past week the Apostolic Nuncio in Brazil, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, sent the bishop a letter asking him to end the hunger strike.

Bishop Cappio said the Nuncio’s letter was “friendly and fraternal, and showed concern for my health and requests me to interrupt my fast as soon as possible and return to the diocese.”

Bishop Cappio did not say whether he would heed the Vatican’s request, which is based on the Catholic teaching that it is immoral to put one’s life at risk for a cause that is political in nature and not related to the truths of the faith.

Brazil's council of bishops last week asked Catholics to unite for a day of fasting and prayer in solidarity with Cappio, but it also has urged him to end the strike, saying it had "already served to alert public opinion."

The San Francisco River runs through 500 Brazilian towns providing water to over 12 million people.  The plan by President Luiz Lula da Silva is to divert the course of the river towards irrigation canals in order to foster development in the northeast, the poorest region of Brazil.

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Muslim extremists attack Christian stores and church in southern Egypt

, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - Thirteen businesses belonging to Christians, as well as the façade of a church, have been attacked by Muslim extremists during the last week in Isna in southern Egypt.

According to Egyptian security officials, at least seven Muslims have been arrested as suspects in the attacks.  The AGI news agency reported that “tensions between the local Christian and Muslim communities increased last Wednesday when a group of Islamic followers surrounded a Christian-owned business and destroyed the windows, probably as an act of revenge.”

AGI also reported that two days earlier, a Muslim man was arrested and then released after he was accused of robbery by a Christian man.

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Chinese bishop released in time for Christmas?

Zhengding, China, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, who was arrested in August for removing a Catholic Patriotic Association sign from his cathedral, was released on Friday after four months of detention.

The family of the 72 year-old bishop had made numerous requests for his release because his uncle was seriously ill.  The bishop had asked the local government many times to release him in time to celebrate Christmas at his cathedral, according to UCA News.

A government official reportedly said Bishop Jia would be detained again after a few days to undergo a “learning session.”  It was not specified if this detention would take place before or after Christmas.

On August 23 Bishop Jia reportedly removed a sign displaying “Catholic Patriotic Association” from the outside of his cathedral, where government officials had placed it.

Public security officers had earlier detained Bishop Jia for seventeen days in June of 2007.

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Congressional spending bill preserves pro-life regs

Washington D.C., Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - Pro-life stipulations have been preserved in the latest congressional omnibus appropriations bill, which approves the budget for the U.S. federal government.

The bill continues the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition against the use of federal funds for most abortions.  Other rules forbid funding for embryo-destroying research and organizations involved in coercive abortion programs. 

The new bill also protects the consciences of health care providers or entities that do not want to provide, pay, or refer for abortions.  Furthermore, any family planning organizations that receive federal grants must comply with state reporting laws on child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest.

In another victory, legal attempts to weaken the Mexico City policy, which forbids U.S. funding for organizations that promote or commit abortions, were removed from the bill.

"While this bill has problems, we are glad that it would neither force Americans to subsidize abortions nor provide federal funding to force people to participate in abortion, an abhorrent elective procedure that kills babies and harms women" said Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America. "We are thankful to the Members of Congress who fought for these pro-life measures and the thousands of Americans who urged their elected officials to uphold these moral provisions that ensure our tax dollars do not encourage abortion."

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Patriarchate of Moscow welcomes Opus Dei presence in Russia

Moscow, Russia, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - The vice president of the Department of Foreign Ecclesial Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, welcomed the personal prelature of Opus Dei, which recently opened a community in Russia, and said its energy and fidelity “to Christian ideals are worthy of great respect.”

“Opus Dei has as its mission strengthening Christian values in today’s society, which moves us to sympathy,” the archpriest said in recent statements.  The vicar for Opus Dei in Moscow, Father Jose Antonio Senovilla Garcia, said his community has gone to Russia “to encourage the people to be good orthodox believers, to find God in their daily lives and to help others.”

Father Senovilla noted that the Russian Orthodox Church has welcomed the presence of Opus Dei in the country, and he said he was “very happy to be here” and that he “has not had any problems.”

The new Opus Dei center in Moscow was inaugurated on June 26, the feast of its founder, St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.

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Cardinal Robles: Family is natural institution and basis of society

Mexico City, Mexico, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Monterrey, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, said this week that the family is “an institution that is natural, that is the basis of society,” and he warned those who oppose a new law that would protect it not to attempt to “supplant such an important institution as the family.”

According to the Mexican daily El Porvenir, the cardinal expressed his support for a law in the state of Nuevo Leon that would bolster the traditional family, saying “there should be dialogue and all opinions should be heard” so that “with serenity and objectivity all voices can be heard and that what the vast majority wants will prevail. I am sure this is what the people of Nuevo Leon need, because the most important institution of a society is what is at stake.”

Asked about the opposition to the proposal by homosexuals in Nuevo Leon, Cardinal Robles said, “If they are minorities, the needs they have should be guaranteed in another way.”

“(These minorities) have a right to make their voices heard, but they do not have the right to substitute an institution that is natural, that is the basis of society.  If they need their rights to be recognized, let them put forth proposals and have them be voted on, but let’s not have them supplant such an important institution as the family.”

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Pope Benedict XVI approves fourteen people's advance towards sainthood

Vatican City, Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) -

Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Monday to publish and circulate the decrees of miracles attributed to the intercession of six Servants of God and the decrees of the heroic virtues of eight people, including Antonietta Meo, a six year-old Italian girl known as “Nennolina,” and Manuel Lozano Garrido, a Spanish handicapped layman who was a journalist and writer.

The Holy Father promulgated the decrees on Monday, opening the door to the beatification and possible canonization for the following individuals:

Michele Sopocko, diocesan priest: born in Juszewszczyna the region of Vilnius (before in Poland, now in Lithuania) on November 1, 1888, and died in Białystok (Poland) on February 15, 1975;

Giacomo Da Ghazir Haddad (born as Khalil), priest of the Capuchin Order of Franciscans and founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross in Lebanon; born in Ghazir (Lebanon) on February 1, 1875, and died in Beirut (Lebanon) on June 26, 1954;

Maria Magdalena de la Encarnacion Sordini (born Catherine), foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; born in Porto Santo Stefano (Grossetto, Italy) and died in Rome on November 29, 1824;

Giovanna Emilia de Villeneuve, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; born in Toulouse (France) on March 9, 1811, and died in Castres (France) on October 2, 1854;

Vincenza María Poloni (born Luigia), foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona; born in Verona (Italy) on January 26, 1802, and found dead on November 11, 1855;

María Josefina de Jesús Crucificado Catanea (born Giuseppina); professed nun of the Discalced Carmelites; born in Naples (Italy) on February 18, 1896, and found dead on March 14, 1948.

The Pope also recognized the “heroic virtues” of the following Servants of God:

Francesco Mottola, diocesan priest and founder of the Secular Institute of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart; born in Tropea (Catanzaro, Italy) on January 3, 1901, and died on June 29, 1969;

Serafino Morazzone, diocesan priest born in Milan (Italy) on February 1, 1747 and died on April 13, 1822;

Raffaele Luigi Rafiringa, professed religious of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools; born in Antananarivo (Madagascar) on November 3, 1856 and died in Fianarantsoa (Madagascar) on May 19, 1919; 

Stefano Nehmé (born Giuseppe), professed brother of the Lebanese Order of the Maronites; born in Lebanon in early March, 1889, and died in Kfifane (Lebanon) on August 30, 1938;

Ana María Marovich, of the Institute of the Sisters of Reparation of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and of Mary Immaculate; born in Venice (Italy) on February 7, 1815, and died on October 3, 1887;

Maria Piera de Micheli (born Josefa Maria), professed sister of the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires; born in Milan on September 11, 1890, and died in Centonara de Arto (Italy) on July 26, 1945;

Manuel Lozano Garrido, layman and journalist; born in Linares (Spain) on August 9, 1920, and died on November 3, 1971;

Antonietta Meo (known as Nennolina); born in Rome on December 15, 1930, and died on July 3, 1937, at the age of six.

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New Jersey bans capital punishment

Trenton, N.J., Dec 18, 2007 (CNA) - New Jersey has now become the first U.S. state in four decades to ban capital punishment, the Associated Press reports.

Governor Jon S. Corzine on Monday signed into law a measure that abolishes the death penalty in the state.  The death sentence is replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"This is a day of progress for us and for the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty as a moral or practical response to the grievous, even heinous, crime of murder," Corzine said.

Eight men were on the state’s death row.  Governor Corzine commuted their sentences to life in prison without parole.

Though New Jersey reinstated capital punishment in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court again allowed executions, the state has not executed an inmate since 1963.

"The rest of America, and for that matter the entire world, is watching what we are doing here today," said Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a Democrat. "New Jersey is setting a precedent that I'm confident other states will follow."

The bill passed the Legislature along a generally party-line vote.  The Democrat majority supported the abolition, while Republicans opposed it.  The Republicans had sought to retain the death penalty for terrorists, those who murder law enforcement officials, and those who rape and murder children.

"It's simply a specious argument to say that, somehow, after six millennia of recorded history, the punishment no longer fits the crime," said Assemblyman Joseph Malone, a Republican.

Some victims’ families also spoke against the law. 

"I will never forget how I've been abused by a state and a governor that was supposed to protect the innocent and enforce the laws," said Marilyn Flax, whose husband Irving was abducted and murdered in 1989 by death row inmate John Martini Sr.

New Jersey’s action has received international support.  The city of Rome will shine golden light on the Coliseum in honor of the decision.  The ancient site of gladiatorial combat and criminal executions has become a symbol for death penalty opponents.

The U.S. Supreme Court has halted executions throughout the nation as it considers whether execution through lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

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