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Archive of March 26, 2008

Bishop to dedicate oratory at Ave Maria University

Naples, Fla., Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - The oratory at Ave Maria University will be dedicated next week at a Mass celebrated by Bishop of Venice Frank Dewane, the Naples Daily News reports.

Ave Maria University President Nick Healy said in an e-mail to the university community that Bishop Dewane would dedicate the 100 foot-tall, $24 million structure at a Mass on the afternoon of March 31.

“We are very pleased to announce that Bishop Frank Dewane will dedicate the oratory at a special Mass and ceremony,” Healy wrote. “Thank you for your prayers.”

It is unclear whether the building will be dedicated as a church or an oratory.  Oratories are places of prayer dedicated to a particular community, while churches are the spiritual centers of parishes.  Baptisms, weddings, and funerals typically occur in churches, and not oratories.

The university had invited Bishop Dewane to dedicate the structure in January, but the January ceremony had to be canceled.

Due to concerns about church law, authority, pastoral care, and financial matters, it had previously been questioned whether the dedication of the oratory would even take place.

The building is the central structure in the 5,000-acre town and university being built by the Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and the local developer Barron Collier Cos.

Bishop Dewane’s dedication of the building will allow Mass to be celebrated there.

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Ugandan president teaches Muammar Gaddafi about Christianity

Kampala, Uganda, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda spoke about Christianity to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in response to the latter’s claim that the Bible had been doctored, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reports.

Last week Colonel Gaddafi claimed that the original Bible had mentioned Muhammed, but had been doctored to exclude references to the founder of Islam.  Ugandan Christians condemned his claim.

During Easter prayers at Nshwere Church in the Kiruhura district, President Museveni spoke about his discussion with the Libyan leader.  He said he told Colonel Gaddafi that the resurrection of Jesus is important for humanity, especially Christians, because it gives them hope for life after death.

The president said he also told Gaddafi that the fundamental laws of Christianity are contained in the two laws found in Chapter 12 of the Gospel of St. Mark.  He cited both commandments, which read, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

According to President Museveni, Colonel Gaddafi seemed convinced that if one fulfilled both laws, one would have fulfilled most of the laws of God.

The president said it did not matter which religion one belongs to as long as one fulfills both laws.  “I do not believe in competition between religions, after all God has no religion. God is for us all,” the president said, according to the Catholic Information Service for Africa.

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Survey reveals Americans have positive opinion of Pope Benedict

New Haven, Conn., Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - On Tuesday the Knights of Columbus published the results of a survey they commissioned on American’s opinions about the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI and their hopes for the papal visit to the United States in April.

The survey results show that Americans have a generally positive opinion of the Pope and the Catholic Church.  Most hope that during his visit Pope Benedict will address the place of spiritual values in ordinary life.

Fifty-eight percent of the United States residents polled have a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of Benedict XVI, while 13 percent have an “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of the Pope.

Seventeen percent of the respondents claim to have never heard of the Pope.

Sixty-five percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Catholic Church, while 28 percent have an unfavorable view.  The Church is especially popular among Latinos, people over age 60, and people who attend religious services once a week.

The majority of Americans (63%) also think the Catholic Church contributes “a great deal” or “a good amount” to people and communities in the United States.  Twenty-four percent believe the Church contributes “not very much” or “nothing at all.”

Knowledge of Pope Benedict amongst Americans remains a scarce commodity with 52 percent saying they do not know very much about Pope Benedict, and 29 percent saying they know nothing at all about him.  Only 19 percent claim to know “a good amount” or “a great deal” about the Pope.

Forty-two percent of Americans, compared with 66 percent of Catholics, say they would like to attend one of the Pope’s public appearances in his upcoming U.S. visit.

According to the survey results, 70 percent or more Americans want to hear the Pope address in his visit how they can allow God to be a part of their daily lives, how they can find spiritual fulfillment by sharing their time and talent, and how they can make a positive difference in the world, their state, and their communities.

Sixty-four percent of Americans expressed interest in hearing Pope Benedict discuss how to create a society where spiritual values play an important role.

The survey found that Catholics “closely mirror” the rest of the American population in age, marital status, education level, income, and voter registration.  They are more likely to live in the Northeast, which has 30 percent of the nation’s Catholics, and less likely to live in the South, which has only 25 percent of the nation’s Catholics.

The survey, conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, queried 1,015 adult United States residents and interviewed 613 U.S. Catholics nationwide.

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Jesus’ resurrection is “certain proof” of his teachings, says Pope

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - Over 30,000 people swelled St. Peter’s Square today to take part in the weekly general audience with Pope Benedict, who arrived by helicopter from his Castelgandolfo residence. The Holy Father’s dedicated his discourse to the period of Easter, and more specifically, to the fact that Jesus’ resurrection is “'certain proof' ... that what He says is true".

"The entire liturgy of the Easter period proclaims the certainty and joy of Christ's resurrection", the Pope began. This is "the central truth of Christian faith in all its doctrinal richness and its inexhaustible vitality".

Christ's Easter, he went on, "is also our Easter because in the risen Christ we are given the certainty of our final resurrection. ... The death of the Lord shows the immense love with which He loved us, even to the point of sacrificing Himself for us. But only His resurrection is 'certain proof' ... that what He says is true".

"It is important to reiterate this fundamental truth of our faith", explained the Holy Father, "the historical truth of which is amply documented, even if today as in the past there is no lack of people who put it in doubt or even deny it.

The Pope pointed to the effects of doubt versus belief in the Resurrection saying, “The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus leads to the weakening of the testimony of believers. ... Whereas adhesion to Christ, dead and risen, changes lives and illuminates the entire life of individuals and peoples".

"The liturgy invites us - and especially in this octave of Easter - to encounter the Risen One personally and to recognize His life-giving action in the events of history and in our daily lives".

As with the disciples of Emmaus who figure in today's Gospel, "the Lord is walking with us and he explains the Scripture to us. He brings us to understand this mystery in which everything speaks of Him. This should make our hearts burn so that our eyes may also be opened. The Lord is with us, He shows us the true path".

The disciples of Emmaus recognized Christ "as He broke the bread. ... We too", the Holy Father concluded, "can meet and know Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist, ... on the double altar of the announced Word and the consecrated Bread and Wine. Each Sunday the community relives the Lord's Easter and draws from the Savior its witness of love and fraternal service".

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Hallelujah echoes from the Church’s heart at Easter, Benedict XVI teaches

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - On Easter Monday, the Pope simultaneously addressed pilgrims at Castelgandolfo and in St. Peter’s Square on the subject of the Easter exclamation “Hallelujah”.

After the grueling schedule of Easter celebrations, Pope Benedict traveled to the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to rest. The synchronized prayer and reflection with the faithful gathered at St. Peter’s was made possible by a television linkup.

Before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope remarked upon the singing of Hallelujah, the word that in the wake of Lent and the Passion passes "from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart". It "echoes forth", he said, "from an absolutely new event: the death and resurrection of Christ."

"This experience", said the Holy Father, "has forever inscribed the word 'Hallelujah' in the heart of the Church."  From her heart "derives also the prayer we recite today and on every day of the Easter period ... the Regina Coeli. Its text is brief and has the direct form of an announcement. It is like a new 'annunciation' to Mary, this time not by an angel but by Christians who invite the mother to joy because her Son ... rose again as He promised."

"Let us allow this Easter Hallelujah to impress itself deeply within us", said the Pope, "so that it becomes not just a word but the expression of our very lives: the lives of people who invite everyone to praise the Lord, and who do so through their own behavior as 'people who have risen'".

After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father recalled that today marks the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs. "Remembering and praying for these our brothers and sisters (bishops, priests, religious and lay people), who fell during the year 2007 while undertaking their missionary service, is a duty of gratitude for the whole Church and a stimulus for each of us to bear witness ever more courageously to our own faith and hope in Him Who on the cross overcame, once and for all, the power of hatred and violence with the omnipotence of His love".

The Pope concluded by remarking that today also marks World Tuberculosis Day. He expressed his own "special closeness" to the sick and to their families, and the hope for "an increase in international efforts to combat this sickness."

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Vatican daily says Holy See has not “emphasized” baptism of Muslim convert

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - The official Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, has rejected claims in some media reports that the Holy See has “emphasized” the baptism of Magdi Allam, the Muslim convert and associate director of the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera who entered the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

In an article entitled, “Religious freedom and dialogue,” the Vatican newspaper pointed out that it is tradition for the Holy Father to baptize, confirm and give First Communion to seven adult converts from different parts of the world during the Easter Vigil Mass.

“One of those persons was Egyptian-born journalist Magdi Allam,” the article noted, emphasizing that Allam—whose baptismal name is Christian—“freely chose baptism after a long journey of discernment and personal preparation necessary to take this step.”

“This event, which is so unique, solemn and joyful, has not been emphasized, as can be seen by the confidentiality” with which the event was treated, the newspaper stated.

The article quoted Vatican Press Office Director, Father Federico Lombardi, who explained that the Pope “does not distinguish between persons. Everyone is important before God and welcome in the community of the Church.”

“Benedict XVI’s gesture at the same time has important meaning because it expresses religious freedom with kindness and clarity and that includes the freedom to change one’s religion, as pointed out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,” he added.

The Vatican newspaper also rejected claims that the baptism constituted a “hostile act against such a great religion as Islam.  For many decades, the Catholic Church has shown her desire to dialogue with the Muslim world, despite many difficulties and obstacles.”

The problems that exist “should not obscure what we have in common and what will come in the future,” the article stated.

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Belgian politicians propose allowing terminally ill children to request euthanasia

Brussels, Belgium, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - Lawmakers of Belgium’s coalition government have urged debate on a euthanasia law currently in Parliament that would allow “minors with incurable diseases and people who suffer from severe dementia” to “end their lives voluntarily if that is their wish.”

“We will not leave the ethical debate as it has been during the last four years,” said liberal leader Bart Tommelein.  Tommelein has pledged to bring forward new legislative proposals extending euthanasia to children and old people suffering from such severe dementia that they are unable to choose for themselves. "We will seek, as Liberals, parliamentary majorities," he said.
 
The debate over the moral legitimacy of euthanasia has escalated since the death of Belgium writer Hugo Claus, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and requested to be euthanized.  His decision was praised by liberal party members.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels denounced euthanasia during his homily on Easter Sunday.  "Avoiding suffering is no act of bravery," he said. "Our society seems unable to cope with death and suffering."

Euthanasia was approved by Belgium in 2002, and in 2007, the association Death with Dignity registered 495 cases of euthanasia.

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Pregnancy top reason young women get fired in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - A report by the Madrina Foundation in Spain has revealed that pregnancy is the main reason why 25% of women between the ages of 18 and 25 lose their jobs. The figure jumps to 50% when women ask to work fewer hours after returning from maternity leave or for time off to care for a sick child.

According to the newspaper “Alba,” 90% of women surveyed by the Madrina Foundation said their employers have harassed them because of a pregnancy.  “Unfortunately, pregnancy is viewed as bad news, almost as an illness,” said the president of the foundation, Conrado Gimenez.

The report has been sent to the European Parliament’s Commission for Women and Gender Equality, whose president, Anna Zaborska, has requested that a series of proposals be drafted to address the problem.

In response to the growing problem, the Madrina Foundation has created the “Madrina Network,” which provides pregnant women and mothers with information on job openings in different companies.

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“Privatization” of the faith in Uruguay criticized by bishop

Montevideo, Uruguay, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Pablo Jaime Galimberti di Vietri of Salto in Uruguay said this week that due to the “privatization” of the faith, many Uruguayan Catholics disregard the role of priests and embrace religious beliefs according to what is personally convenient for them.

In recent statements, the bishop decried the tendency “to privatize religious experience” that is common today, resulting in a decreasing number of people with authentic faith.  He called it a “worldwide phenomenon” that is present in every country and in every religious tradition.

Although the term privatization is not used often in reference to matters of faith, Bishop Galimberti said, it does accurately reflect what is happening today.  “I work things out with God and I embrace the religious practices of my church according to my needs,” he said to explain the thinking of these people.

He blamed consumerism as the reason many people abandon the faith.  “Now Sundays are good days to go shopping, to go out, to play sports,” the bishop said.

Bishop Galimberti also stressed that today’s society is characterized by a loss of the notion and sense of sin. Priests, he said, need to have better discernment and make themselves more available for the sacrament of Confession.

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Mexico still Catholic, but number of atheists on the rise

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information Technology said this week that while most Mexicans remain Catholic, the fastest growing group in the country is atheists.

In a recent report, the Institute said the number of atheists grows annually by 5.2%, while the number of Catholics grows by 1.7%.

Mexicans “are increasingly more involved in the new religious movements that are gaining ground in the ambit of the faith, mainly in rural zones, poor urban areas and indigenous communities,” the report indicates.  “These faithful are characterized by two things: high rates of illiteracy and low income.”

A recent study by the Mexican Institute for Christian Social Doctrine asserted that among Catholics, “there is really no commitment to the faith they preach” and most have become nominal believers who attend baptisms and marriage but not Sunday Mass.

The study indicated that on Sunday an average of 200 people are in attendance at each Mass at the more than 9,000 parishes and chapels in Mexico.

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British government to reconsider Catholic monarch ban

London, England, Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - The British government is considering whether to abolish the 300-year-old Act of Settlement that forbids Catholics from sitting on the British throne, the Scotsman reports.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, revealed the proposal after he unveiled the draft of the sweeping Constitutional Reform Bill yesterday.

The bill did not include any proposal to abolish what Catholics have called legalized discrimination.  However, the topic was raised in the House of Commons by Labour MP Jim Devine, a Catholic.

Devine described the Act of Settlement as “legalized sectarianism which has no role in the 21st century,” calling for it to be repealed.

Straw told Devine that the proposal was complicated by the monarch’s position as head of the Church of England.  However, Straw granted that the law was seen as “antiquated,” saying, “We are certainly ready to consider this.”

Abolishing the Act of Settlement would require changes to the Act of Union, which secures the role of the Protestant Presbyterian Church in Scotland.  The government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, fearing nationalist influence, may be reluctant to modify the legislation that formally holds the United Kingdom together.

Other measures in the draft bill include reductions in the power of the prime minister to appoint Anglican bishops.

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Arizona passes partial-birth abortion ban

Phoenix, Ariz., Mar 26, 2008 (CNA) - The Arizona legislature on Tuesday passed two bills regulating abortion in the state and sent them to Gov. Janet Napolitano for her consideration.

One bill clarified the circumstances that override the need for a minor seeking an abortion to obtain parental consent, while the other bill established state penalties for partial-birth abortion.

House Bill 2769 builds on a federal law outlawing partial-birth abortions.  It makes performing the procedure a Class 5 felony, which cannot be pleaded down to a misdemeanor.

Senator Linda Gray described in detail on the Senate floor how a partial-birth abortion is performed.  “This is a horrible, horrible procedure,” she said.

Ron Johnson, Executive Director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, called the bill “important pro-life legislation.”  He said a state ban was needed so that Arizona citizens did not have to rely upon the United States Justice Department to prosecute violators. 

“Additionally,” Johnson said, “a state ban is helpful because federal prosecutors attempting to enforce the current partial birth abortion ban must first show that interstate commerce is somehow impacted.”

Senator Paula Aboud said the bill "claims to copy the federal law but it goes too far."  She said it creates a situation where a doctor could be prosecuted under both state and federal law.

The other bill, House Bill 2263, outlined the critera a judge should consider when deciding if there is “clear and convincing” evidence that a minor has the maturity to undergo an abortion without parental consent.  A judge can consider whether the minor has worked and lived outside the home, handled her personal finances, or made other significant decisions on her own.

Senator Aboud criticized the bill for burdening minors already in a difficult position.  "For some, speaking to their parents is not an option," she said.

"It is not changing the law or adding any new burdens," said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative think tank.

The Arizona House of Representatives also approved a bill that bars nurses from performing surgical abortions.

The bills now require the approval of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.  She has vetoed other abortion laws in the past, including one involving parental consent for minors.

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Lk 12:49-53

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First Reading:: Eph 3:14-21
Gospel:: Lk 12: 49-53

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Lk 12:49-53

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