Archive of January 20, 2008

Christendom announces 10th annual high school summer program

Front Royal, Va., Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - Christendom College’s annual summer program for rising high school seniors will be held on its Front Royal, Virginia, campus in two different sessions from June 22 to 29 (one-week) and from July 6 to July 19 (two-week).
The program, now in its tenth year, gives rising high school seniors the opportunity to experience life as a student at an authentically Catholic college, where they will be fully immersed into a fully Catholic atmosphere where academics, friendship, culture, and fun are seamlessly woven together.
As in the past, the college is expecting approximately 100 students from across the country and abroad to spend time soaking up the Catholic Faith and culture in the sometimes hot and always Catholic climate found at Christendom.

“High school students today have so many colleges from which to choose,” says Admissions Director Tom McFadden. “I think that it is important for students to figure out which college fits their needs best. Spending two weeks at Christendom, experiencing dorm life, the culture, the professors, and even the food, can do much to help students determine whether Christendom is the right place for them to spend their college years.”

The program offers classes in literature, theology, philosophy, and history.  Classes are held on weekdays from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, leaving every afternoon and the weekends for a myriad of activities. Students participate in events such as a trip to nearby Washington, D.C. to attend Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and tour the various museums, a Major League Baseball game, canoeing on the Shenandoah River, and a hike through Skyline Drive.  A highlight for students last year was seeing “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Kennedy Center.
Students are also introduced to some traditions very particular to Christendom, such as swing dancing, contra dancing, and of course, learning the Virginia Reel while attending College President Timothy O’Donnell’s barn dance.
Mass, Rosary, Eucharistic adoration and the opportunity to go to Confession are part of the program’s daily schedule.
President O’Donnell believes the program is an important part of Christendom’s mission “to restore all things in Christ.”
“The program is an opportunity for students to get to know the college, but we have also seen year after year that this program changes these students for the better. Sometimes two weeks of Christendom-living is enough to change hearts—change lives.”
Over the years, the summer program has drawn nothing but praise from those who have attended.
“I really enjoyed this program!” Elizabeth Wagner of Mount Vernon, Indiana said. “I absolutely loved the dances we learned, how Catholicism is the center of daily life, how traditional everything is, and how much everyone bonded.  I have made amazing new friends and love that there is a place where being a strong Catholic is not the minority.”
Catherine Marra of Clifton Park, NY had the same opinion: “It truly was one of the most beneficial and spiritual experiences in my life.  I was ecstatic to meet other Catholic people my age, attend a reverent daily Mass, and hear teachers speak Catholic truth.  What an atmosphere!”
Application forms for the High School Summer Program are available on Christendom’s website ( and limited financial assistance is available on a first-come first-served basis.

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Exorcist priest warns against "hidden knowledge” trend in Mexico

Saltillo, Mexico, Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - Fr. Jose Luis del Rio y Santiago of the Mexican Diocese of Saltillo, who carried out an exorcism during a healing Mass last Monday, warned against the trend of seeking supposed secret knowledge, and the consulting of healers and fortune tellers, saying such practices “open the door to Satanism.”

During the Mass celebrated at a local parish, a young woman with signs of possession was present, forcing Father del Rio to practice an exorcism in front of the entire congregation.

Father del Rio, who is authorized by the bishop to practice exorcisms in the diocese, warned that the practices of fortune telling, witchcraft and the occult are leading to an increasing number of cases of Satanic possession.

“There are people who get involved in these kinds of practices without knowing that what they are doing is opening the door to the devil,” he stressed.

“People begin to see the occult and fortune telling as something natural and legitimate; and they watch TV programs on astrology, parapsychology and psychics.  They get carried away by their ignorance and can fall prey to occult practices.  We must warn the faithful that these practices open the door to the devil,” he added.

The young girl who underwent the exorcism was able to leave the church with the help of her family.  Father del Rio said she would “have to return for several more sessions in order to ensure her recovery.”

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“Christianophobia” documented online by Europe for Christ

CNA STAFF, Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - The non-governmental organization (NGO) Europe for Christ wants to combat and document what it sees as a growing phenonmenon in Europe—Christianophobia—or an irrational fear of Christians or Christianity.

Europe for Christ explains that it created the website to provide governments and institutions with objective and reliable data on the phenomenon of Christianophobia in Europe and to prevent the hatred of Christianity from spreading.

While the term has only been in use since 2004, the history of Christianophobia is long and often hard to trace.

In a speech at Lourdes in 1983, Pope John Paul II noted that fear of Christianity was prevalent then: “Today, besides prison, concentration camps, forced labor camps, and expulsion from one's country there are other punishments less known but more subtle: not violent death but a kind of civil death, not only isolation in prisons or in a camps but social discrimination or permanent restriction of personal liberty,” he lamented.

The ecumenical group’s main work is centered around “prayer for a Europe built on Christian values, education on vital issues of concern for European Christians and action and support for Christians when needed.” However, in their efforts to support these goals, Europe for Christ “stumbled over several cases of discrimination of Christians in Europe” and now maintains an up-to-date listing of them on the site.

Visitors to the site can read about recent cases as well as submit their own personal stories of Christianophobia for inclusion online. The web address is:

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"Never grow tired of praying for Christian unity", Pope tells crowd

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - After greeting a throng of some 200,000 people who came to St. Peter’s Square to prayerfully support Pope Benedict, the Holy Father turned to the subject of his Angelus address, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Pope exhorted the faithful in his reflections to “never grow tired of praying for unity among Christians!”

During this week of prayer, Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, "implore the Lord together, in a more intense way, for the gift of communion," the Pontiff reminded the faithful.
The Pope acknowledged the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, the "spiritual sons and daughters" of Fr. Paul Wattson, who began the initiative 100 years ago and who was dedicated entirely to the work of healing divisions between Christians.
This year's theme for the week of prayer for Christian unity, "Pray always," is a "biblical theme that is dense with significance."
The Holy Father said, "With this appeal, St Paul wanted to make it understood that new life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit brings the capacity to overcome selfishness, to live together in peace and fraternal unity, and to bear willingly the sufferings of others. We must never grow tired of praying for unity among Christians!"
He continued, "When at the last supper, Jesus prayed that "they all might be one", he had in mind the precise end, "that the world believe." The evangelical mission of the Church is thus an ecumenical walk, a journey of unity in faith, in evangelical witness and authentic fraternity."
Concluding his Angelus reflection, the Pope invited everyone to participate in solemn Vespers on January 25, the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, at the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

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Hundreds of thousands crowd St. Peter’s Square in support of Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - Droves of Italians flocked to St. Peter’s Square this morning to give Pope Benedict XVI the welcome he was denied this week at La Sapienza University.
In response to an invitation issued earlier this week by the Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, close to 200,000 people, some traveling long distances, gathered to express solidarity with Pope Benedict.
Two days before Pope Benedict XVI was to address students and faculty at the University's 2008 opening ceremony last Thursday, a small group of students and professors launched a stormy protest, accusing the Pope of being opposed to science based on a quote taken out of context in a discourse by then Cardinal Ratzinger more than a decade ago. The Holy See cancelled the Pope's visit to La Sapienza after students threatened to disrupt his speech with loud music and protests.
Among those who gathered in the square were some who, though not Catholic, were outraged that a small few could suppress freedom of free speech.
Others, including Dr. Sylvia Boca, a graduate of La Sapienza, wanted to show the Holy Father that they were part of a vast majority of people at La Sapienza University who respect the Pope and were looking forward to the honor of his presence.
As the bells announced noon, the Pope appeared in the window to greet a cheering crowd. Holding banners and waving flags, they shouted, "You did not come to us, so we've come to you!"
Following his Angelus address on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Benedict XVI turned to the cheering crowd, and expressed his heartfelt gratitude for supporting him. He also recounted the events of the last week that led him to decline the invitation to speak at La Sapienza.
"I desire first of all to greet young people from the university, professors and all of you who have come today in such numbers to St Peter Square to participate in the prayer of the Angelus and to express your solidarity."
He also saluted Cardinal Ruini who urged Italians to show their support, as well as cardinals and curial officials perched just outside the doors of St. Peter Basilica.
Pope Benedict recounted briefly the events of the last week. "As you know, he said, I willingly accepted the invitation extended to me last Thursday. I know this university well and am fond of the students: every year on various occasions they meet me at the Vatican together with their colleagues from other universities. Unfortunately, as is well known, he said, the atmosphere that was created made my presence inadvisable. Still, I wanted to send the text I prepared for the occasion."
Speaking as a professor of his love for the university, the Holy Father explained, "I am very much connected to the university environment, which was my world for many years, by my love for the search for truth, through debated, frank dialogue and respect for the others' positions. This is also the mission of the Church, charged with faithfully following Jesus, the Author of life, truth and love."
The Holy Father said that as a professor "emeritus" he encourages all students to be always respectful of the opinions of others, and to search always for the truth and goodness in a spirit that is free and responsible.
In the end, he said that perhaps the unfortunate circumstances of the last week were for the best, since it drew so many people together in spirit of unity and solidarity that was fitting.

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President Bush proclaims National Sanctity of Human Life Day

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we recognize that each life has inherent dignity and matchless value, and we reaffirm our steadfast determination to defend the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society.

America was founded on the belief that all men are created equal and have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and our country remains committed to upholding that founding principle.

Since taking office, I have signed legislation to help protect life at all stages, and my Administration will continue to encourage adoption, fund abstinence education and crisis pregnancy programs, and support faith-based groups.

Today, as our society searches for new ways to ease human suffering, we must pursue the possibilities of science in a manner that respects the sacred gift of life and upholds our moral values.

Our Nation has made progress in its efforts to protect human life, and we will strive to change hearts and minds with compassion and decency.

On National Sanctity of Human Life Day and throughout the year, we help strengthen the culture of life in America and work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 20, 2008, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.



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25,000 attend West Coast Walk for Life, event continues to grow

San Francisco, Calif., Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - After hearing two speeches from the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., and a woman who survived an abortion, an estimated 25,000 marchers on Saturday walked 2.5 miles along the San Francisco waterfront to support pregnant women and to protest legalized abortion.

The marchers carried signs and banners reading “Abortion Hurts Women” and “Women Deserve Better.”

About 250 pro-abortion protestors chanted and jeered alongside the marchers’ route.

At the Walk for Life rally before the march, the audience was addressed by Gianna Jessen, who developed cerebral palsy as an infant after an attempted saline abortion in Los Angeles.

"I was aborted and did not die," Gianna Jessen told the cheering crowd, but referred to her injuries adding, "I will limp my way into heaven."

"The abortionist signed my birth certificate," Jessen said, though she continued, "My life is not defined by abortion. I am not a victim, I am a victor."

Alveda King, the niece of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to the marchers, comparing the pro-life movement to her uncle’s efforts to secure civil rights.

"We care about life from the womb to the tomb," Alveda King said. "My uncle said injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Dr. King said that the Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the future of his children for personal comfort and safety. So here we are on behalf of the children, the future generation."

King led the crowd in singing the civil rights song “This Little Light of Mine.”

Rev. Clenard Childress and the radio host Jesse Romero also addressed the crowd.  Eight Catholic bishops from various regions of California were present to show support for the event and the marchers’ cause.

Walk for Life co-chair Dolores Meehan said her organization was pleased by the growing numbers of participants, noting the first event in 2005 drew about 5,000 people while the 2007 event attracted about 20,000.

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Vatican again condemns human cloning after reported cloning success

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - Following news that corporate researchers had successfully cloned human embryos using the corporation founder’s own cells, the Vatican on Friday reiterated its condemnation of embryonic cloning research, Reuters reports.

"This ranks among the most morally illicit acts, ethically speaking," said Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which studies bioethical issues.

"There isn't even -- I won't say the justification, because it's never justified -- but not even the pretext of finding something (new)," he told Vatican radio.

Monsignor Sgreccia also said the cloning research was unnecessary, given that similar research advances avoid creating and destroying human embryos.

The cleric’s remarks followed Thursday’s announcement from the California-based Stemagen Corp. that it used cloning technology to make five human embryos. 

Following the same somatic cell nuclear transfer technique that cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996, the company said it hollowed out an egg cell and injected the nucleus of cells from two donors.  One of the donors was reportedly Dr. Samuel Wood, a fertility doctor who founded Stemagen.

Stemagen researchers destroyed all five embryos during testing to verify all the embryos were true clones.

The company hoped to use the cloning technique to create embryos to provide stem cells that could repair devastating injuries and cure diseases.  Embryonic stem cells, which are considered particularly powerful because they can generate all types of cells in the human body, are typically harvested in a manner that kills the source embryo.

Other techniques for collecting stem cells do not involve cloning embryos.  Ordinary skin cells can be reprogrammed to create what are called induced pluripotent stem cells, which some researchers believe are also promising sources for medical treatments.

Monsignor Sgreccia said he could not understand why some scientists wanted to use human embryos when other sources of stem cells were available.

"You can't know any more if this is all a game… done solely out of the desire to experiment on men and women," Monsignor Sgreccia said.

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Runaway archbishop publishes autobiography

, Jan 20, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the former chief prelate of the Catholic Church in Zambia who was excommunicated after marrying and attempting to ordain four married priests as bishops, has published his memoirs, BBC News reports.

Before a crowd of some one hundred journalists and cameramen, Archbishop Milingo launched his book in a bookshop near the Trevi fountain in Rome. 

Milingo, who now has some associations with the Unification Church, defended his decision to disobey the celibacy requirement for archbishops in marrying his South Korean wife, Maria Sung.  He claimed that 150,000 priests have left the Church to marry, 25,000 of them in the United States. 

His mission, he said, was to be the apostle of married priests.  "We are claiming our rights. We are priests forever and we are members of the Catholic Church," he said.

The archbishop’s book, titled “Confessions of an Excommunicated Catholic,” covers his rise from childhood poverty to his appointment as one of the youngest bishops of the Catholic Church. 

Milingo was briefly restricted to Rome after the Vatican became uneasy about his faith-healing ministry in Zambia.  The archbishop left Italy for the United States, where he became close to the Unification Church run by Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

Archbishop Milingo has denied he is a member of Moon’s Unification Church, popularly known as “Moonies.”  However, his international travels appear to be subsidized by Moon’s Korea-based sect, and Milingo married his wife in a mass wedding ceremony at which Sun Myung Moon presided.



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