, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - A Scottish soccer team could be censured after a player displayed a shirt that said “God Bless the Pope” in a post-game victory celebration, the BBC reports.
The Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc, whom fans call the “Holy Goalie,” wore the shirt on the field after his team won a 3-2 victory over the Rangers. The shirt displayed a picture of the late Pope John Paul II and the phrase “God Bless the Pope”.
Under FIFA’s international soccer rules, players must not reveal undershirts that contain slogans or advertising.
The Scottish Premier League is considering a report on the incident, but the BBC reports any action against Boruc is unlikely. If Boruc’s action is deemed to have caused fan problems, his team could be censured.
Celtic manager Gordon Strachan did not think his player’s shirt was a cause for concern.
"If it was 'God bless Myra Hindley', I might have a problem," said Strachan, referring to an English child murderess.
In the past, Boruc has been disciplined for less pious actions on and off the field.
The goalie was also cautioned for disturbing the peace when he made gestures at Rangers fans in February 2006. Police insisted that the caution issued to Boruc was not for blessing himself, as some had claimed.
Washington D.C., May 1, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has welcomed a bill proposal in the U.S. Congress that would ban the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos. He called the legislation “an opportunity to rein in an egregious and disturbing misuse of technology to undermine human dignity.”
The Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act (H.R. 5910) was introduced in the House on April 24 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). Identical legislation, Senate Bill 2358, was introduced in the Senate last year by Sam Brownback (R- KS).
Writing in a statement, Cardinal Rigali commended Sen. Brownback and Rep. Smith for their “leadership” in proposing such legislation.
“While this subject may seem like science fiction to many, the threat is all too real,” Cardinal Rigali said. He referenced the United Kingdom’s preparation to authorize the creation of cloned human embryos using human DNA and animal eggs. He said this set the stage for the creation of embryos that are “half-human and half-animal.”
Researchers in New York, the cardinal said, have implanted mouse/human embryonic chimeras into female mice, while California scientists have said they may produce a mouse whose brain is entirely made up of human brain cells.
“Nothing more radically undermines human dignity than a project that can make it impossible to determine what is human and what is not,” Cardinal Rigali said.
The cardinal encouraged members of all political parties to co-sponsor and approve the legislation while there is “still time for sound ethics and policy to place some restraints on the misuse of science.”
, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Earl Boyea was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Lansing on Tuesday in a Mass attended by the papal nuncio, a cardinal, 24 bishops, and more than 100 priests.
The Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper relates that Bishop Boyea paid tribute to his fellow priests in Detroit, where he was formerly an auxiliary bishop and before that a priest. He told the congregation that because of his close friendships in Detroit, his new position “leaves me feeling a bit bereft. We are bound to one another.”
Turning to his new flock, Bishop Boyea said, “Now I will have new brothers. Count on me as your brother and father in life.”
The new Bishop of Lansing addressed his retiring predecessor, Bishop Carl F. Mengeling. “A special thanks for 12 years. You will always be in our hearts,” he said, after which those in attendance gave a standing ovation.
Bishop Boyea continued, “I told Bishop Mengeling that he exercised such a grace-filled ministry that I should be able to coast for five years.”
After the Mass, Bishop Boyea told the local media that the greatest present crisis for the Catholic Church and religion in general is “the secular culture that thinks nothing beyond this world.”
“Their life is centered on iPods, and it's a problem all over the world,” he said.
Bishop Boyea was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1951, the eldest of ten children. He received two degrees from the Gregorian in Rome, and earned a master’s degree in American History at Wayne State University. He also earned a doctorate in Church History at the Catholic University of America.
He is now the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Lansing.
Sydney, Australia, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell has responded to a proposed bill of rights by arguing that such rights are best protected by a democratically elected parliament instead of courts of law, the West Australian reports. The cardinal also expressed concern that if such a proposal is enacted, it could spark a “culture war” in Australia similar to the cultural, moral, and legal conflicts in the United States.
A recent Australia 2020 summit included among its proposals a charter or bill of rights.
Cardinal Pell suggested the proposal was motivated by distrust of majority rule.
“Rights are best protected by the common law and by parliament when the people are equally aware of their responsibilities,” he told an audience at the Brisbane Institute on Tuesday night. “Democratic law-making is imperfect, but preferable to rule by the courts.”
Cardinal Pell noted that a charter of human rights has been applied by the Canadian Supreme Court, which he said has progressively lowered standards of evidence.
“So, it is not only in areas of life, family, freedom of religion, discrimination and equality that a bill or charter of rights causes trouble,” he said.
The cardinal asserted that when judges abuse their powers to defend human rights, the majority of people respond negatively. He noted the irony that this type of reaction is exactly what the legislation is supposed to avert.
“We don’t have a culture war here in Australia in the way the United States does, but a bill or charter of rights could help provoke one,” Cardinal Pell said, according to the West Australian.
He also noted the ineffectiveness of a similar bill of rights in conflict-torn Zimbabwe.
The government of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed to an inquiry on the bill of rights proposal, but reportedly has ruled out any model that would undermine the authority of parliament.
Other opponents of the proposed bill of rights have said it would give too much power to the courts and increase frivolous lawsuits.
Guatemala City, Guatemala, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Guatemala, Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, has opened the cause of beatification for Carmelite Sister Maria Teresa of the Most Holy Trinity. The ceremony took place at the archdiocesan cathedral and was attended by members of her religious congregation, family members and devotees of Sister Maria Teresa.
Sister Maria Teresa was born in Guatemala on April 15, 1784. She was baptized as Maria Teresa de Jesus Anastasia Cayetana. She took the Carmelite habit on November 21, 1807, at the convent of St. Teresa in Guatemala, which no longer exists.
Those who knew her said that from the time she was a young girl, she was very spiritual. She died in 1841.
Sister Maria Teresa’s reputation for holiness has spread quickly and many Guatemalans have a special devotion to her.
Rome, Italy, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - In preparation for the next gathering of the Catholic bishops around the world, the Catholic Biblical Federation has conducted an extensive survey regarding how the Bible is read in 13 different countries. The survey reports that the U.S. is the one of most Bible-believing nations and the one that is most interested in the Scriptures.
The survey was held to obtain a sense of the influence of the Scriptures to assist the bishops in their October 5-26, 2008 synod on “The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church”.
Thus far, 13,000 interviews have been held in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Russia. According to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister, the results released on April 28 “cover the entirety of the adult population” and the results pertaining solely to Catholics will be published at a later date. Results from Argentina, South Africa, the Philippines, and Australia are still being collated.
In Magister’s view, the results of the survey show that, “the Bible is not present and influential in all countries in the same way. The wave of secularization produces very different effects from region to region. In the United States and in Italy, these effects appear to be more contained than in other countries of Western Europe, among which France emerges as the most de-Christianized nation.”
The Bible is present in many houses in Italy and the U.S., 75% and 93% respectively, but in France less than half of the people have a Bible at home.
However, the only place where the Scriptures have been read in the last year is the United States, which comes in at 75%. Despite high ownership, Italian Bible reading is reported at 27 %, and in Spain the number falls to 20 %.
One result that confirms the need for an initiative that Pope Benedict XVI has been promoting is the feedback on the number of people who pray with the Bible or Lectio Divina, as it is referred to in Church tradition. The numbers are highest in the U.S. (37%) and Poland (32%) but Italy falls to 10 % and Spain to 8%.
Belief in the veracity of the Scriptures was found to be highest in Poland, Russia and the United States (93, 90 and 88 percents respectively).
Bible literacy was found to be high amongst Americans too. Magister reports that “more than a third of the adult population responded correctly that the Gospels are part of the Bible, that Jesus did not write any books, that Moses is a character in the Old Testament, and that Paul and Peter are not the authors of Gospels.”
Interestingly, 27% of Americans adhere to a fundamentalist or literalist interpretation of the Scriptures, but these fundamentalists also show a poorer understanding of the Bible than those who interpret it with a more critical spirit.
Listed below are some of the results of the SKA-Eurisko survey on "The reading of the Scriptures” courtesy of the Vatican observer Sandro Magister at La Repubblica. All results are in percentages.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE CONTENTS OF THE BIBLE ARE TRUE OR FALSE?
UNITED STATES – 88 true 12 false
UNITED KINGDOM – 66 true 34 false
HOLLAND – 59 true 41 false
GERMANY – 72 true 28 false
FRANCE – 62 true 38 false
SPAIN – 67 true 33 false
ITALY – 86 true 14 false
POLAND – 93 true 7 false
RUSSIA – 90 true 10 false
IS IT REAL OR ABSTRACT?
UNITED STATES – 75 real 25 abstract
UNITED KINGDOM – 51 real 49 abstract
HOLLAND – 35 real 64 abstract
GERMANY – 59 real 41 abstract
FRANCE – 36 real 64 abstract
SPAIN – 39 real 61 abstract
ITALY – 64 real 36 abstract
POLAND – 66 real 34 abstract
RUSSIA – 61 real 39 abstract
IS IT INTERESTING OR BORING?
UNITED STATES – 95 interesting 5 boring
UNITED KINGDOM – 75 interesting 25 boring
HOLLAND – 66 interesting 34 boring
GERMANY – 83 interesting 17 boring
FRANCE – 75 interesting 25 boring
SPAIN – 74 interesting 26 boring
ITALY – 86 interesting 14 boring
POLAND – 91 interesting 9 boring
RUSSIA – 81 interesting 19 boring
IS IT EASY OR DIFFICULT?
UNITED STATES – 44 easy 56 difficult
UNITED KINGDOM – 36 easy 64 difficult
HOLLAND – 36 easy 64 difficult
GERMANY – 30 easy 70 difficult
FRANCE – 35 easy 65 difficult
SPAIN – 39 easy 61 difficult
ITALY – 38 easy 62 difficult
POLAND – 32 easy 68 difficult
RUSSIA – 34 easy 66 difficult
Guayaquil, Ecuador, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - In an open letter to Ecuadorian Catholics, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador, Archbishop Antonio Arregui of Guayaquil, responded to media reports that distorted his statements by saying that he was not asking for special rights for homosexuals.
In his letter, the archbishop recalled that “the only purpose of any intervention by the Catholic Church in social and legal issues is to promote and protect the dignity of the human person in light of the Gospel and correct reason.”
He warned against proposals that have been put forth during debate on the new constitution that would make same-sex unions equivalent to marriage, noting that the bishops have stressed that “unions formed by homosexuals cannot be considered as marriages or families.”
After recalling the Christian teaching on homosexual activity, Archbishop Arregui emphasized that the Church “does not engage in unjust discrimination. The Church treats men and women with homosexual tendencies with understanding, respect and sensitivity.”
“When it comes to legislation, this means that no law can attempt to equate these relationships and unions with the incomparable treasure of marriage and the family,” the archbishop said. He added that, “confusion comes when we speak about the regulation of the rights and obligations that may originate in a lasting relationship between homosexual persons, which cannot take place in a legal vacuum. But the legal channel for these possible rights and obligations is the same one for laws in general, without any need for specific singularities.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, in recent months there have been many currents circulating that are adverse to Christian values, and at the same time, we have a great opportunity to work for a more just and fraternal society under the protection of the Lord. Let us unite our efforts, transcending political differences, in service to our country,” the archbishop said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz recalled this week that International Workers’ Day, May 1, coincides with the celebration of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and he said, “the value of work lies precisely in that it is man who carries it out.”
“Work is not just another object, but rather the expression and condition of spiritual and social development of man. When we forget about this primary relationship of work with man’s dignity, it loses its cultural richness and moral value,” the archbishop said in a message for May 1.
Archbishop Arancedo went on to note that when work is valued only for what is produced and the subject that carries it out is forgotten, we forget that man has a personal need for work as a moral link to society. “Creating jobs is the sign of a just society,” he said.
“This should lead us to conclude that the greatest poverty of man is not to have work, or not to be able to work, and also that work is not only a personal issue, but also a social and a political one,” he said.
“When we take seriously the importance of work in the life of man, we cannot help but affirm that it is morally unjust and culturally poor for a society not to react in response to the scourge of unemployment and poverty or for it to accept inhumane conditions or take advantage of the employment of minors. To teach people to work is a sign of a wise society,” he said
Havana, Cuba, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Italian news agency SIR has reported that more than 100 seminarians will be able to study in the new seminary of the Archdiocese of Havana, the first to be built in 50 years in Cuba.
Construction of the new seminary began in July of 2006 and will be some 10 miles outside Havana, on 54 acres of land.
The old seminary will be transformed into a cultural center dedicated to the Servant of God Fr. Felix Varela.
“Under the name that will identify the future institution will the following phrase be inscribed, perhaps in parenthesis: ‘Old Seminary of St. Charles and St. Ambrose’,” said Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino.
Fort Worth, Texas, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - Yesterday the United Methodist General Conference delegates affirmed not only that marriage is between a man and a woman but that marriage is a "covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage," an issue regarded as one of the most controversial within the church.
According to the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD), the delegates voted down the committee report that would change The Book of Discipline to explicitly condone homosexual practice by a vote of 501- 417.
Other delegates at the convention emphasized that the defeated "majority report" would have acknowledged that members of the United Methodist Church "deeply disagree with one another" on the issue of homosexuality.
Frederick Brewington, a layman who is a member of the New York Annual Conference called the failed report a "mature way forward" and "an honest, yet humble approach to how we are to view one another," according to the United Methodist News Service.
The executive director of the IRD UMAction Committee, Mark Tooley noted, that the vote was indicative of the views of the Methodists.”
"The vote today in affirmation of traditional marriage represents the will of the international United Methodist Church. Those who demand acceptance of homosexual behavior maximized their campaign this year knowing it was their last chance to win in United Methodism.”
He also commented on the role of the international delegates at the Conference. "The African and other over-seas delegates represented the margin of victory for the current church stance on marriage and sex. This year they comprised almost 30 percent of the total delegates thanks to their church growth and membership decline in the U.S. The internationals may comprise 40 percent in 2012.”
"Africans and other international United Methodists in coalition with Evangelicals in the U.S. are working for a new denomination faithful to historic Christian teaching, and (one that is) culturally transformative instead of culturally accommodating," Tooley said.
The convention also tackled other issues related to sexuality, such as upholding the church's policy that prohibits United Methodist ministers from conducting ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions and rebuffing attempts to adopt language that would include "committed unions" in a section describing the sanctity of the marriage covenant.
Berryville, Ark., May 1, 2008 (CNA) - The common center and chapel buildings at the hermitage of the musician John Michael Talbot burned to the ground on Tuesday.
The fire began at about 12 a.m. at the Little Portion Hermitage, located in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. It started in the Charity Chapel, the main worship space for the Catholic religious community. The blaze spread through a covered walkway to the Common Center, which houses the dining and meeting rooms, the offices, and the library.
Both structures were reportedly total losses and some community members suffered smoke inhalation trying to rescue items from the fire.
In a letter posted on his web site, John Michael Talbot described the fire, saying he saw the “orange-red glow” of the flames from his hermitage’s back windows.
“Upon arriving we found there were no hoses capable of stopping the raging flames. I ran up the hill and woke up the community, and we started the almost futile task of spraying down the part of the Common Center that had not yet burned and retrieving anything from inside we could still find,” he said.
Talbot, a secular Franciscan who founded the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, said he had never seen a fire so large.
“The flames reached high into the sky,” he said. “The smoke was very dense, as was the heat. Despite this, our people ventured into the smoky building to retrieve whatever they could reach. Some of us suffered from smoke inhalation. I spent a lot of time trying to get people out of the building before it exploded into flames. We finally surrendered to the inevitability that our Chapel and Common building were going to burn to the ground before the fire company could get to us.”
According to Talbot, the volunteer fire company arrived 30 to 40 minutes after the fire began. He said the community was “most grateful” to the firefighters for saving the other buildings.
Talbot said the community archives, all the library books, and the community’s various awards were lost in the fire. He said the stockroom and inventory for Troubadour, the hermitage’s music distribution ministry, were also lost. Some outdated information survived in computer backups.
“It is our hope that most of this is covered by our insurance,” Talbot said. He stated that offers of help were also appreciated, saying, “We are humbled and grateful beyond mere words for the outpouring of offers to help with food, housing and other things.”
He reported that members of the community received various words and locutions. One saw the image of Gideon, who was repeatedly told by God that he needed fewer, but better-prepared men for battle.
Talbot said that God is “stripping us back to what is really essential to our way of life.”
The community will use its Portiuncula Chapel for prayer and vacant hermitages for meals, community meetings, and a temporary office. A recovery fund has been set up at http://www.troubadourforthelord.com
Honolulu, Hawaii, May 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints has ruled that a Hawaiian woman’s cure from cancer was a miracle linked to her prayers to Blessed Father Damien De Veuster. The missionary priest, who was renowned for working with leprosy patients, is now one step closer to being declared a saint.
Audrey Toguchi, a 79-year-old retired schoolteacher who lives in Aiea, became ill in 1997 with a lump on her left thigh that was discovered to be cancerous. She asked her sisters to accompany her to Kalaupapa to pray at Father Damien’s grave.
“I prayed that he would ask God to heal me,” Toguchi told the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
After surgery in January 1998, Dr. Walter Chang told her that her rare form of cancer, liposarcoma, had spread to both lungs.
"He said, 'I cannot do anything for you. No surgery is possible.'," she said.
"I went back to Kalaupapa,” Toguchi continued. “I went to Mass and received Communion and then I went to Damien's grave. I said, 'Please, ask God to cure this cancer.'
"Doctor Chang took pictures of my lungs and every month, it was less and less until after four months, the cancer was gone. He was flabbergasted."
According to the Star Bulletin, Toguchi told no one besides her family about her cure. Instead, she wrote to Pope John Paul II about the cancer’s disappearance, thus beginning the investigation into the miracle. Father Damien was credited with his first miracle after the spontaneous recovery of a terminally ill French nun in 1895 was attributed to his intercession. He was beatified in 1995, but one more confirmed miracle was required for his canonization to be considered.
The cure was documented in the Hawaii Medical Journal in October 2000. Toguchi’s life, faith, and medical history were also examined by church authorities. She was interviewed by a local panel and by Monsignor Robert Sarno from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Monsignor Sarno notified Toguchi of the congregation’s decision by e-mail.
Toguchi’s identity had been shielded by her doctor and church officials, but Bishop of Honolulu Larry Silva revealed her name in a statement on Tuesday.
In the statement, Bishop Silva said “I give thanks and praise to God for the news I received this morning!” He said Father Damien’s cause for canonization would now go before the cardinals and bishops who lead the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the miracle is approved, Father Damien’s canonization would then need to be approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Silva urged Catholics to keep the process in their prayers, so that “it will result in the canonization of our beloved Father Damien.”
Fresno, Calif., May 1, 2008 (CNA) - A former Episcopalian diocese that left the denomination to join the Anglican jurisdiction of the Southern Cone is now being sued by its Episcopalian successor for its possessions and real estate.
The California Catholic Daily reports that in December, Episcopal Bishop John-David Schofield, with both clergy and lay representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, decided to withdraw the diocese’s affiliation with the U.S. Episcopal Church to join the South American Anglican jurisdiction of the Southern Cone.
Motives for the 8,000-member diocese’s decision included the Episcopal Church’s toleration and promotion of homosexuality and other issues the Fresno-based diocese says depart from biblical orthodoxy. The diocese now calls itself the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.
The Episcopal House of Bishops in a March 12 meeting in Texas voted to depose Bishop Schofield from the ordained ministry because, they said, he had “repudiated the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.” Bishop Schofield said the vote has no effect because he now belongs to the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone.
Parishes in the diocese who remained with the Episcopal Church have reformed the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, approving the Right Rev. Jerry Lamb as their provisional bishop. On April 24, the reformed Episcopal diocese filed a lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court to reclaim possessions and real estate property, including the diocesan chancery office, which are in the possession of the Anglican diocese.
The Episcopal diocese’s lawsuit says that the properties are being used “to advance the ministry and mission of a different church.” The lawsuit seeks to regain the “substantial assets” of the corporation sole, including Episcopal missions and parishes within the diocese
Of the original diocese’s 47 congregations, 42 voted to join the Southern Cone, though some congregations have reportedly decided to join the Episcopal diocese. Including two new congregations, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has 18 congregations.
According to California Catholic Daily, Bishop Schofield said that nothing in the constitutions and canons of the Episcopal Church prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and joining another. “Just as we stood together for the sake of our witness to the Gospel at our Convention in December, so now will we continue to stand together for that same witness,” he said.