Archive of March 25, 2008

Knight of Columbus head writes guide for changing culture

CNA STAFF, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - A new book by the head of the Knights of Columbus explores the themes the Pope is likely to address in his April visit to the United States and provides a practical guide for Catholics to change the culture for the good.

The book “A Civilization of Love:  What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World” was written by Carl Anderson, who since 2000 has been the Supreme Knight of the 1.7 million-member Knights of Columbus.  Anderson is also a member of three pontifical councils, a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and a trustee of the Catholic University of America.  He was also one of the three delegates sent by President Bush to represent the United States at the opening Mass of Pope Benedict’s pontificate in 2005.

“A Civilization of Love” applies Catholic values to prominent issues such as immigration, business ethics, globalization, abortion, and the role of the family.

"This book is about the power of faith to transform culture," said Anderson. "To truly be effective, cultural change must transcend politics and begin with the way that each of us lives out our faith each day."

The star of the movie “Bella,” Eduardo Verastegui, has endorsed the book, calling it “one of those books I will refer back to for years.”  He said he loved the book’s “common sense principle” that “living out our faith is the best road map to a society that we can be proud of.”

Verastegui said that the book would help people live their life like Jose, his character in “Bella,” who helped a woman and her child in need.

“If like me, you love this country, but want to make it even better, to contribute rather than complain, then this book may be the most important book you will read this year,” he said.

"A Civilization of Love" is currently #8 on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list.  

The book is being released on March 25 and can be purchased at

All author proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Knights of Columbus Charities.

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Young Australians energized by World Youth Day preparations

, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - World Youth Day preparations in Australia have inspired Catholic young people to grow in their faith as they perform Passion plays and enact Stations of the Cross.

A World Youth Day group in the Western Australia town of Lockridge spent months practicing a Passion play that was performed before a huge crowd of parishioners at Good Shepherd Church on the morning of Good Friday. 

“The spirit of WYD has changed me,” said Maria Vu, a member in the Lockridge World Youth Day group of 42 young people. “I am inspired by other youth at school and in my parish who bear witness to our Catholic faith and our belief in Jesus. I know for sure in Sydney, I will be more aware about the universal Catholic Church in which we are all swept up in the love of Christ. I think WYD is a wonderful thing. It's something that gives life to the Church.”

Father Vinh Dong, the parish priest of Lockridge, said that the impact of the preparatory program for World Youth Day would continue “well beyond” the July event.

“Currently, we want the youth in the parish to know more about their faith and discover what inspires and engages them in the Church. Later, we want them to engage more fully in the life of the Church,” Father Dong said.

About five miles away from the Good Shepherd Church, Catholic and Anglican youth took turns carrying the Cross in the Stations of the Cross.  The ecumenical service, organized by both St. Columba Catholic Church and St. Augustine Anglican Church drew hundreds who walked and prayed down the streets of Bayswater, Australia.

Father Huynh Nguyen, the parish priest of St. Columba’s, said he and his Anglican counterpart Father Peter Manuel have organized the ecumenical Stations of the Cross "to bear witness to our common hope."  The service started at the Anglican church and ended at the Catholic Church, where Father Nguyen gave his blessing to both Catholic and Anglican attendees.

An Anglican student who took turns carrying the cross said, "By walking and praying together, we show people we confess the one faith, and keep the fraternal harmony of the family of God.”

Some Anglican youth reportedly will attend World Youth Day in Sydney with their Catholic friends.

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Ultrasound laws added in Ohio and South Dakota

Columbus, Ohio, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - Ohio and South Dakota now join 11 other states with laws in place that require abortion clinics to offer pregnant mothers the chance to view an ultrasound of their child before they decide whether or not to abort.

On Friday, Ohio’s Gov. Ted Strickland signed the ultrasound bill into law. Interestingly, physicians who disobey the law risk losing their medical license in Ohio. The new requirements will take effect 90 days from last Friday.

The new South Dakota law requires facilities that perform abortions to offer the pregnant woman “an opportunity to view a sonogram of her unborn child" before an abortion is done. The law also requires the facility to keep a written record of the woman's response, including her signature.

The abortion clinics must also create an annual report of the records and submit it to the state health department. The report, at a minimum, must include the number of women refusing and accepting the sonogram offer, as well as whether those women decided to abort their children.

Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin also have similar laws on the books. Louisiana’s law requires an ultrasound be performed if the pregnant woman chooses to have one and she is over 20 weeks pregnant. Kentucky is also considering a law requiring the sonic images be offered.

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Catholic radio station launches new channel with award winnings

Nairobi, Kenya, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - Radio Pacis, a Ugandan radio station, has received the opportunity to launch a second FM frequency thanks to the prize money it won at the BBC Africa Radio Awards in 2007. 

The Arua-based Catholic radio station won the New Station of the Year category at the first annual Radio Africa Awards ceremony, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya on May 26, 2007. Judges cited Radio Pacis’ ability to address the needs of the community as the reason for choosing the station.

The competition’s panel of four expert judges, led by former BBC World Service broadcaster Robin White, was impressed by Radio Pacis’ contribution to knowledge and development in the region.  White said: “Radio Pacis is a fine example of what a community radio station outside the capital can do. It may have few staff and modest resources, but it still addresses challenging issues including providing advice on medical and health problems. It also offers debate on matters of local interest alongside local and national news."

The award comes with a $5,000 prize for purchasing new broadcasting equipment.

After the competition, the director of the station, Father Tonino Pasolini, expressed his gratitude saying: “We would like to thank BBC World Service for honoring Radio Pacis and making possible the launch of our new frequency.  Winning the BBC New Station of the Year trophy and the prize money has changed all our lives.  Also helped with other donations, we have been able to build a studio and buy the necessary equipment to support the launch of our new 94.5 FM frequency which means we can reach even more people than before."

Sherry Meyer, Radio Pacis Station Manager, added: “Our aim has always been to offer programming that helps with the development of the community as well as individual personal growth and this extra money and recognition from the BBC will help us to do that even better.  With our current 90.9 FM frequency we offer programming in three local languages.  With the new frequency we can now offer programming in four local languages.  Both frequencies broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are important because they are the only means of information for those people who don’t speak a language particular to that area."

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Battle over human life to intensify, says Spanish cardinal

Madrid, Spain, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, said this week that while the struggle for the defense of life today is difficult, it will intensify in the coming years, “with norms or behaviors that favor abortion, euthanasia and research with embryos.”

During Easter Mass, the cardinal reminded the faithful of their duty to cooperate in social life and to combat “the scourge of terrorism, particularly in Spain, the terrorism of ETA.”

Christians, he said, are “urged to collaborate in the defense of life” and of “fundamental human rights that were not created by us, but rather “come from God.”

Cardinal Canizares also pointed out that there is still a thirst for God present in the world today and that “faith in the resurrection helps us to understand God’s yes to man, his yes to the truth of reason and to rational ethics and to make it understandable to others.”

“If we do not speak of God, if we do not bear witness to God in everything, we will always be stuck in worldly things,” he warned.

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Chilean bishop backs legitimacy of labor strikes

Santiago, Chile, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alejandro Goic, said on Chilean TV this week that striking “is a legitimate right when there are no other options for reaching an appropriate solution to a conflict workers are having with their company.”

Referring to the debate in Chile currently over workers’ salaries, the bishop noted that “there is a lot of unhappiness among many people in the workforce, because they see a country that is growing and developing but not everyone is benefiting from it.”

Bishop Goic also voiced support for Cardinal Javier Errazuriz of Santiago who has called on politicians and society in general not to succumb to “the seduction to lie, offend, denigrate, humiliate or cause hurt in word or deed.”

“The Church appreciates the vocation to political life and political parties enormously,” he said, “but if they are not capable of entering into dialogue, between the ruling party and the opposition, they are going down the wrong road.”

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The Church needs priests who live authentic obedience, says Peruvian bishop

Lima, Peru, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Kay Schmalhausen of Ayaviri in southern Peru said this week that the Church needs priests who are willingly obedient and have an intense spiritual life.

During the Chrism Mass of Holy Week, the bishop reminded priests that their lives “should be oriented toward replicating the supreme model who is Jesus Christ.  A priest does not live for himself, nor has he been consecrated to do his own will.”

Bishop Schmalhausen said obedience is a primary characteristic of the priestly life and that only by embracing it “will we be will authentically free, our ministry fruitful for the Kingdom and our priestly life happy and truly complete.”

He warned that “it is not surprising that today’s world, subjected to secularism and to what has been called a civilization under threat is not only incapable of assuming this loving and sacrificial logic of obedience, but also frankly rebels against it and sees obedience as a synonym for oppression.”

He lamented the influence of this “worldly and fallacious perspective” on the life of Church, which can easily be seen in the spirit of dissent from the magisterium, in the formation of groups intended to pressure and corner the bishops, in the action of organizations that do not submit to their bishops, in the search for “weak consensuses” that leave a mark of mediocrity on ecclesial life, and in the promotion of ideologies that are completely foreign to the gospel and the sense of the Church. 

All of this leads to the confusion and scandal of the faithful, he said, adding that such manifestations show a “completely immature assimilation of the spirit of Christ” and confirm the presence of “the Evil one.”

Authentic obedience, he told priests, which frees the person from attachments, selfishness, pride and anger, springs forth from a heart “purified through an encounter with Jesus.” 

Priests need an intense spiritual life for their own well-being and for the success of their ministry and their testimony, he noted.  A lack of a spiritual life “has grave consequences; we see this too many times.  Only this ensures there will be a faithful and generous love in the priest, an undivided heart, a total surrender to the Church.”

For this reason,” celibacy, we know well, is a great gift to the Church. It enables the priest to be free to serve all. It opens his heart to the needs of all the faithful.  It enables us to give of ourselves without counting the cost,” he stressed.

“The Church cannot permit her priestly sons to live a double life which causes grave harm to the ecclesial body and at the same time discredits her ministers (…)  Therefore, beloved brothers, may we be recognized as priests for our morals and may we let that be seen by all,” the bishop added.

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Archbishop rejects idea to allow homosexuals to adopt children in Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno of Montevideo voiced opposition this week to a proposed law put forth by the government of Uruguay that would allow homosexual couples to adopt children.

Archbishop Cotugno said the measure deserves disapproval “from the perspective of reason and the Catholic faith.”

The Constitution and Legislation Committee of the House of Representatives is studying a proposed law that would allow couples who have lived together for at least four years, whether cohabiting or married, including homosexual couples, to adopt children.

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Benedict XVI to celebrate Mass on third anniversary of death of John Paul II

Vatican City, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations has announced that Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a Mass in remembrance of Servant of God Pope John Paul II on April 2, the third anniversary of his death.

His death occurred on April 2, 2005 at 9:37 p.m. Rome time, due to sepsis and irreversible cardiopulmonary collapse, compounded by Parkinson. He was nearly 85 years old.

On May 13, 2005, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the city of Rome, formally opened the cause of beatification of John Paul II after Pope Benedict XVI waived the five-year waiting period which the Church law normally requires before beginning the process.

Last year on April 2, 2007, the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification was concluded, as all of the testimony on the life of the late Pontiff had been gathered together.  At that time it was revealed that a French nun, Sister Marie Simon Pierre, attributed her miraculous healing of Parkinson’s Disease to the intercession of Pope John Paul II.

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Venezuelan archbishop denounces Chavez’s new commune project

, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - The vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro, criticized a proposal by President Hugo Chavez to create Soviet-like commune cities “when decent services haven’t been provided to the cities that already exist in Venezuela for more than 500 years”.

Speaking on Union Radio, Archbishop Luckert said Coro “seems like a war zone, with all the streets torn up.  What will those poor communities that are part of the president’s illusory psychosis be like, when decent services haven’t been provided to the cities that already exist in Venezuela for more than 500 years?” he asked.

Archbishop Luckert called the president’s proposal “foolish” and a product of his fondness for Marxism, Socialism and Fidel Castro.  He also said “21st century Socialism” is a concept “only Chavez and those around him” understand and are willing to swallow.

He went on to note that Chavez wants education in Venezuela to be subject to his ideology.

The Venezuelan people used to think that he would move the country forward, the archbishop said, “but now people understand that this is not the case.” Now people realize that Chavez makes false promises that “end up as nothing,” he explained.

The archbishop warned Venezuelans to be alert against Chavez’s attempts to impose his reforms that were voted down during the referendum on December 2, 2007.


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Hagee denies anti-Catholicism accusations

San Antonio, Texas, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - An influential Texas pastor who endorsed Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain has denied allegations he is anti-Catholic.

Rev. John Hagee, pastor of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, has been accused of anti-Catholicism by Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.  Donohue argued that Hagee “clearly distorts” Catholic teaching and misrepresents Church history, especially concerning the actions of Pope Pius XII during the Second World War. 

Hagee said his statements about the Catholic Church had been “grossly mischaracterized.” His words about the anti-Christ and a “false cult system,” he said, were references to “those Christians who ignore the Gospels.”

In his recent book, Hagee wrote that “most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.”  When asked about this statement during an interview with the New York Times magazine, Hagee said he was trying to express “the fact that Christian anti-Semitism — both Catholic and Protestant — contributed to an environment in which Nazi racial anti-Semitism could flourish.”

Hagee released an extended self-defense in a March 13 statement that said the accusations of religious bigotry made against him were “slanderous.”

“I am not now, nor have I ever been anti-Catholic,” he said in the press release.  He cited Cornerstone Church’s social service center that feeds the hungry and clothes the needy, most of whom Hagee said were Catholic.

“I personally supported a convent for over ten years providing complimentary housing for elderly, retired nuns,” Hagee said.  “Many of you remember the day of honor that we had for those nuns in this church for their lifetime of service to God. These are not the acts of someone who is anti-Catholic.”

Hagee said he had dedicated most of his adult life to “eradicating anti-Semitism from Christianity,” stating that his statements critical of Catholicism were directed to that end.

“As part of this effort, I have criticized the past anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church,” he said.

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British PMs allowed free vote on controversial embryo bill

London, England, Mar 25, 2008 (CNA) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decided to allow a free vote on the “ethical” aspects of a controversial fertilization and embryology bill after some Catholic cabinet ministers said they were prepared to resign their positions rather than vote for the bill, the Guardian reports.

Brown said that Ministers of Parliament with the Labour Party would be allowed a free vote on the three most controversial aspects of the bill:  the provision allowing the creation of hybrid embryos where human DNA is inserted into an animal cell; the “savior sibling” provision which allows embryos to be tested for donor compatibility with a child suffering a serious medical condition; and a provision concerning IVF research.

MPs from the Tory and the Liberal Democrat parties have already been offered a free vote on the bill. 

The transport secretary Ruth Kelly and the Welsh secretary Paul Murphy were said to be among those Labour Party members who could have resigned rather than support the bill.

The free vote will be allowed during a “report stage” when the House of Commons considers each clause of the bill.  During the second and third readings of the bill, Labour MPs will be called on to support the bill as a whole.

The prime minister said he felt “very strongly” about the bill, which would support research he believed would lead to treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and heart disease.

"I do believe that with stem-cell research we have the power in the future to treat and cure some of the diseases that have afflicted mankind for centuries," Brown said to reporters at a Labour campaign event.

"I don't think you can underestimate the importance scientists attach to the advances made possible by embryo stem-cell research," he continued.

The bill also deregulates IVF treatments, which are presently required to consider the child’s need for a father.

Church leaders like Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, have raised concerns about the bill. 

Over this past weekend, sermons condemning the legislation were heard in Catholic churches across Britain.

Some scientists have attacked the Church’s opposition.  Dr. Stephen Minger, director of the stem cell biology laboratory at King’s College, London, said he thought the bill’s critics were using “intentionally inflammatory” language.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and Archbishop Peter Smith, the chair of the bishops’ conference department for Citizenship and Responsibility, issued a statement welcoming Prime Minister Brown’s announcement of a free vote.  “The free vote will be welcomed by people of all faiths or none who are concerned about the implications of this Bill that go to the heart of what it means to be human,” their statement said.

The bishops called scientific research into potential treatments and cures for diseases “both welcome and necessary.”  The bishops noted “exciting developments” in the area of adult stem cell research that does not involve “the deliberate creation and destruction of human life.” 

“It is surely possible to achieve the good ends pursued by this research without recourse to ethically questionable means,” they said.

The bishops said British society needs a debate about the ethical limits of scientific research and reminded people that they have already asked for a national bioethics committee to focus discussion and give advice on such matters.

In a separate statement, the Archbishop of Birmingham Vincent Nichols called the prime minister’s announcement of a free vote “welcome news.” 

“This matters greatly not only to Catholics but also to people of other faiths and those who have clear ethical concerns,” he said.

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