London, England, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - A woman engaged to a member of the British royal family has renounced her Catholic faith to maintain her fiancée’s position in the line of succession.
The Times Online reports that Autumn Kelly, 31, was received into the Church of England. She is to be married to Peter Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest grandson, on May 17.
British monarchs and their heirs are barred from becoming or marrying Catholics according to the 1701 Act of Settlement. Phillips, who is currently eleventh in line to the throne, would have had to renounce his claim had she not converted.
Kelly was reportedly advised for several months before deciding to convert. “She was not asked to do this; she did it of her own accord,” a source told the Daily Telegraph.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman confirmed the conversion had taken place and said that, "She was welcomed into the Church of England some time ago."
Kelly, a management consultant from Canada, met Phillips at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2003. She moved to the United Kingdom to be with him shortly thereafter.
Her parents are said to be enthusiastic about their daughter’s engagement. I’ve met him a few times and he’s a great guy, a really nice person,” her mother, Kathleen, told the Times Online.
She said that she did not think that there would be a problem with her daughter being a “foreigner”.
“I think attitudes to things like that have changed,” she said. “Autumn is a very serious and intelligent young woman. She may be young, but she knows the world. And he’s a great guy. Isn’t that what counts?”
It is not known whether Kelly was a practicing Catholic, though she was educated at Catholic schools.
Denton, Neb., May 2, 2008 (CNA) - The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), in cooperation with EWTN, will soon release an instructional video on the 1962 Latin Mass. A free copy will be available to any priest or seminarian who reserves the video on its web site.
The video includes over three hours of footage on two DVD discs, giving a step-by-step explanation and demonstration of the Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form. The production includes multiple appendices with instructions on the general principles of gesture and movement, as well as commonly encountered variations in the elements of the Mass.
Also featured is a real-time demonstration of the Mass, which is viewable from multiple camera angles on demand. A spiritual commentary on the Mass, as well as an explanation from an FSSP priest on the liturgical principles of the Extraordinary Form are also included.
Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission, provides an introduction for the DVD. The Ecclesia Dei Commission is tasked with the implementation of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio on the 1962 Latin Mass.
In the cardinal’s introduction, he explains that Pope Benedict XVI hoped to foster a “spiritual and theological richness” by promoting wider use of the Mass of St. Pius V through the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
The cardinal also emphasized that this Mass was a universal gift.
“All this liturgical richness, all this spiritual richness, and all the prayers so well-preserved during the centuries, all of this is offered by the Rome of today for all. As a gift for all, it is not a gift merely for the so-called traditionalists. No, it is a gift for the whole Catholic Church,” Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said.
The “sacred silence” and contemplation of the ancient rite, the cardinal said, “makes present the Lord Jesus in an expression of rich liturgical beauty, as the conqueror of death and sin… this rite brought unity to the faith and became the single expression through which the Church adores God.”
The cardinal said that parishes and priests should make available the Extraordinary Form so that “everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church.” He also stressed that, “even if it is not specifically asked for, or requested” it should be provided. Interestingly, he added that the Pope wants this Mass to become normal in parishes, so that “young communities can also become familiar with this rite.”
The DVD has also been reviewed by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, Chairman of the Committee for Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Priests and seminarians can reserve a copy of the DVD at www.fsspdvd.com.
Vatican City, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - Every five years a group of Cuban bishops travel to visit with the Pope and to visit the tomb of St. Peter. On Friday morning the bishops met with Pope Benedict, who told them that, "At this historic moment, the Church in Cuba is called to “offer all Cuban society the only true hope: Our Lord Jesus.”
From the beginning of his talk with the bishops, the Pope pointed to, "the vitality of the Church in Cuba, as well as its unity and its commitment to Jesus Christ".
He also noted that the life of the Church in Cuba has undergone a “profound change” over the last 20 years, and even more so following “the historic visit to Cuba in 1998 by my venerated predecessor Pope John Paul II".
"At this historic moment, the Church in Cuba is called to offer all Cuban society the only true hope: Our Lord Jesus. ... This means that the fomentation of ecclesial life must be given a central role in your aspirations and your pastoral project,” the Holy Father said.
After thanking priests for "their faithfulness and tireless service to the Church and the faithful", the Pope turned to the topic of priestly vocations.
Benedict XVI said that he hoped "an increase in vocations and the simultaneous adoption of appropriate measures in this field, may soon enable the Cuban Church to have a sufficient number of priests, as well as the churches and places of worship necessary to accomplish her strictly pastoral and spiritual mission".
In order to address the need for more native Cuban priests, the Archdiocese of Havana began construction on a new seminary in July 2006. The new seminary will hold more than 100 seminarians.
"It is necessary", Pope Benedict said, that the Church not be afraid of “encouraging the young to follow the footsteps of Christ, Who alone is capable of satisfying their longing for love and happiness". He also urged the bishops to ensure that those in training to be future priests receive "the best possible spiritual, intellectual and human formation". Such training will enable them to identify themselves with the Heart of Christ, and to shoulder "the commitment to the priestly ministry", he said.
The shortage of priests in Cuba and the difficulties faced with obtaining visas for missionary clergy has led the Church in Cuba to stress the formation of the laity to strengthen the Church.
Noting how the bishops pastoral plan calls for the formation of "a committed laity", the Holy Father invited the prelates to encourage "an authentic process of education in the faith at various levels, with the help of well-trained catechists". Other points of formation that the Pope emphasized were, encouraging the "reading and prayerful meditation upon the Word of God", for the faithful, "as well as their frequent attendance at the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist".
The Pope also stressed how, with an "intense spiritual life and the support of a solid religious education", the laity "will be able to offer convincing testimony of their faith in all areas of society, illuminating them with the light of the Gospel. In this context, it is my hope that the Church in Cuba, in keeping with her legitimate aspirations, may enjoy normal access to the social communications media", an area where the government has intervened in the past.
On the subject of the pastoral care of marriage and the family, the Holy Father encouraged the prelates "to redouble their efforts so as to ensure that everyone, and especially the young, gains a better understanding of - and feels ever more attracted by - the beauty of the true values of marriage and the family. At the same time, it is necessary to encourage and offer the appropriate means so that families can exercise their responsibilities, and their fundamental right to a religious and moral education for their children".
Benedict XVI related his joy to the bishops that the Church in Cuba is so generously dedicated to “serving the poorest and the most disadvantaged” and offered his “heartfelt encouragement to continue bringing a visible sign of God's love to those in need, the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned".
The audience with the bishops ended with the Pope saying that he hoped that the approaching beatification of Servant of God Fr. Jose Olallo Valdes "may give fresh impulse to your service to the Church and the people of Cuba, always being a leavening for reconciliation, justice and peace".
Phoenix, Ariz., May 2, 2008 (CNA) - In a Pastoral Statement released yesterday, the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference encouraged a deeper respect for people’s freedom of conscience, especially in regards to health care and human life. The bishops requested that state and national political leaders consider the implication of legislation that imposes requirements on people that are contrary to their religious beliefs.
The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix and Apostolic Administrator of Gallup, and the Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson, stated that the right to follow one’s religious beliefs and moral convictions is being compromised and even undermined at every level of society by those who seek to legally mandate certain professionals to take actions contrary to their beliefs and values.
Though progress has been made in the protection of civil rights, “there is a growing disregard especially for health-care workers striving to exercise their God-given freedom to follow their conscience,” the bishops said.
“Arizona, like many other states, mandates that all employers providing prescription coverage to their employees must include coverage for contraceptives. This law clearly forces Catholic organizations like Catholic Charities and Catholic Hospitals to act in a way that is contrary to our moral teaching.”
The bishops also pointed to recent legislative attempts in the state to force health-care professionals and hospitals to prescribe, refer, or provide “morning after pills” (i.e. emergency contraception) that some experts say can cause an abortion in a pregnant woman. Though the attempts have failed in Arizona, the bishops warn that the pressure to deny “rights of conscience” continues to mount.
“In response to these challenges, we remain committed to supporting legislation to protect the ‘rights of conscience’ for all health-care providers, including pharmacists, especially in matters of contraceptives and abortifacients,” the bishops emphasize. “We are committed as well to oppose any measures that take away those rights.”
Concluding their statement, the bishops recommend five steps of action to help secure the freedom of conscience: 1) engaging in prayer for all those who struggle for the ability to freely exercise their right of conscience; 2) educating ourselves about the issues; 3) becoming involved politically in matters of conscience protection; 4) supporting health-care providers in matters of conscience; and 5) joining with people of other faiths and those of goodwill to find solutions.
For the full text of the statement, visit the Diocese of Phoenix.
Minneapolis, Minn., May 2, 2008 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop Harry J. Flynn from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota. He will be succeeded by Archbishop John C. Neinstedt.
According to the web site of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Archbishop Flynn, who reached the mandatory age for submitting resignation from pastoral care, 75, was ordained a bishop in 1986. After serving the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, he was named Coadjutor Archbishop for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1994. He has held the position of Archbishop since 1995.
The new Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, John Neinstedt was ordained a bishop in 1996 and served the Archdiocese of Detroit. In 2001 he was appointed to be the Bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota.
Last April, the Holy Father appointed Neinstedt as the Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Madrid, Spain, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - A prominent lay Catholic in Spain who was recently named to the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Lola Velarde, said this week that Spain’s President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s secularist agenda is the launching pad for efforts to promote secularism in Europe and Latin America.
Velarde told the Spanish weekly Alba that Spain has become “in part” a trial ground, because “if this secularist agenda can be implemented in a traditionally Catholic country, it will be much easier to ‘export’ it to other countries like those of Latin America.”
Velarde, who is also president of the European Network of the Institute for Family Policy, said she wasn’t inferring there was a “worldwide conspiracy” or a “worldwide secularist agenda with headquarters in Spain,” but rather that there exists a “secularist, relativist, gender ideology-based current that has many protagonists and in which Spain plays a key role.”
She said her work as member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity would be to unveil this agenda, provide analysis and point to “solutions and avenues” to combat it, as well as “to be a voice for the laity of the Church, especially the laity that work in public life.”
Velarde thanked Pope Benedict XVI for naming her to the new post and said that as president of the European Network of the Institute for Family Policy, she hoped to offer solutions and analysis about the problems families face in Spain and the European Union.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - During celebrations marking the International Day of the Child, Archbishop Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca said having children should not be considered an obstacle to be overcome in life, as “there is no reason a mother cannot be a successful woman. What greater success is there than to give life?” he asked.
“Giving life is the greatest triumph that we can obtain over death; the human being carries within himself the innate anxiety to be fulfilled by giving life. It has been proven that marital problems are more common in couples without children,” the archbishop said.
He called on parents not to be afraid, as “the solution is not to not have children in order to not assume responsibilities,” but rather to be mature in order to understand that this responsibility “engenders satisfactions.” He warned that “the fear of fertility is an evil that dehumanizes us.”
However, the archbishop pointed out that children should not be engendered “without the commitment of forming a home.” He warned of the scars children bear from domestic violence, and he said that adoption is an appropriate response to fill the emptiness in children who are orphaned.
After recalling the unborn who are threatened by abortion, Archbishop Chavez Botello called for a reflection on the social, legal and humanitarian solutions that are needed “to correct and solve the problems faced by thousands of children who do not have a healthy and stable family that provides them the real opportunity to live with love and dignity.”
Toledo, Spain, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo spoke out on school education this week saying that, it should be founded upon the truth, especially nowadays, when there is a cultural climate that “seeks to keep human reason from tending towards the truth.”
In an article he wrote on education, the cardinal explained that schools “must help kids to love, think and act according to right reason. For this reason they have as their mission the search and the presentation of the truth, with no other limits than the truth itself.”
Educational policies, he said, must have the value and dignity of man at their center, be based on the truth about man, that is, in conformity how God created him.
After emphasizing that the Church is certain that man can only base himself on the truth of Christ, “who shows man what man himself is and reveals to him the greatness of his vocation,” Cardinal Canizares explained that “without violating right reason in any way, we can affirm and bear witness that every aspect of authentic humanism is closely linked to Christ.”
“The search and access to truth, the fulfillment of the truth, the obtaining of the truth about man himself, belongs to this authentic humanism. To exclude from man access to this truth is the root of all alienation,” the cardinal warned.
“For this reason,” he continued, “the central problem for schools, in my view, is the issue of the truth, which is nonetheless not one of the many questions that man must face, but rather, the fundamental issue that cannot be eliminated and that spans all times and stages of life and of the history of humanity,” the cardinal said.
Vatican City, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - As it does every year, Time magazine has released its list of the world’s 100 most influential people and this year’s list does not include Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, says that he is “very happy that the Pope isn't on the list” because the criteria used by Time do not accurately gauge his influence.
This year’s list includes an eclectic selection of people, ranging from the Dalai Lama to the U.S. pop singer Miley Cyrus. Yet the absence of Pope Benedict is notable in a year when he has played such a major role on the world scene.
''I'm very happy that the pope isn't on the list, because they have used criteria that have absolutely nothing to do with the evaluation of the pope's religious and moral authority,'' Fr. Lombardi said in reaction.
''It's difficult to draw comparisons and establish rankings with very different characteristics: there are actors, tennis players and so on,” he noted.
''For that reason I think it's positive not to confuse the pope's kind of authority and service with other criteria of a worldly nature,'' he added.
The inclusion of the Dalai Lama in the list was ''another matter'', Lombardi said.
However, Giovanni Maria Vian, Director of the unofficial Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, said that the absence of the Holy Father from Time’s list is "perplexing". Especially since the list is defined as being made up of "the hundred men and women whose power, talent and moral example are transforming the world."
In Vian’s opinion, no newspaper would have accepted this list, which cites "absolutely implausible names."
Vatican City, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - Today Pope Benedict appointed Fr. Byran Bayda as bishop of the Eparchy of Saskatoon of the Ukrainians. The bishop-elect will succeed Most Rev. Michael Wiwchar, who submitted his resignation upon his 75th birthday last year.
Fr. Bayda was born in Saskatoon in 1961. According to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishop-elect made his final profession to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1986 and was ordained a priest the following year.
He is currently the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Parish in Yorktown, Saskatchewan, Canada.
The bishop-elect will serve 8,422 Catholics and 11 priests in the Eparchy of Saskatoon of the Ukrainians.
Vatican City, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - Beginning today, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is meeting to study how to overcome the negative effects of globalization so that trend can be harnessed to build a "civilisation of the common good.”
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; Margaret Archer of the University of Warwick, England; and Pierpaolo Donati of the University of Bologna, Italy held a press conference at the Vatican today to announce the academy’s 14th plenary meeting. The summit will take place at the Vatican from May 2-6 and has the theme: "Pursuing the common good: how solidarity and subsidiarity can work together".
According to organizers, the goal of the conference "is to give new meaning and application to the concept of common good in this age of globalisation, which in certain fields is leading to growing inequalities and social injustice, laceration and fragmentation of the social fabric, in short, to the destruction of common goods throughout the world".
"The main hypothesis on which scholars are called to exchange their views is that the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity can, unlike the compromises between socialism and liberalism, mobilise new social, economic and cultural forces of civil society which, within politically-shared fundamental values, can generate those common goods on which the future of humanity depends.”
An explanation released by the conference organizers says that the participants will carefully look at how the “four fundamental principles of the Catholic social doctrine (dignity of the human person, common good, solidarity and subsidiarity)” can be applied and also how they might be “misconstrued, misunderstood, disobeyed or distorted".
Explaining how these principles "are very often interpreted in ways that are very far from the meanings and intentions that attain to social doctrine," the note refers to the family. "The common good of the family is identified with its assets", it says, "family solidarity with sentiments of pure affection, subsidiarity with leaving each 'actor' to define the family as he/she likes".
"At the practical-operational level, some case studies on good practices will be presented", among them are “the 'economy of communion' and the 'Food Bank'”; “shared access (peer to peer) to information goods on communication networks (the Internet); the new 'Local Alliances for the Family' (born in Germany and spreading throughout Europe); subsidiary educational activities in developing countries”; and the use of “micro-credit for social, economic and human development."
Underlying all of these efforts, the bishops see “the fundamental challenge" facing the assembly as acknowledging that “the great deficit of modernity” and then discovering how to combine the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity to “turn globalisation into a 'civilisation of the common good'".
Harare, Zimbabwe, May 2, 2008 (CNA) - After long delays, the electoral body of Zimbabwe said on Friday that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won more votes than President Robert Mugabe in the March 29 election. However, having failed to win a majority, Tsvangirai now faces a run-off election against Mugabe.
According to Reuters, Tsvangirai’s opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has protested the announcement, calling the result “scandalous daylight robbery.” The MDC claims Tsvangirai won more than 50 percent in the election.
Chief Elections Officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said Tsvangirai won 47.9 percent of the vote, while Mugabe, who has remained in power for 18 years, won 43.2 percent, Reuters reports.
Sekeramayi said the date of the runoff election will be announced by the committee. By law, the runoff must take place within 21 days of the announcement of the primary results.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa claimed that the verification of the vote had not been done properly.
"This whole thing is a scandal, scandalous daylight robbery and everyone knows that," he told Reuters. "We won this election outright, and yet what we are being given here as the outcome are some fudged figures meant to save Mugabe and ZANU-PF."
The opposition has accused the government of delaying results to engage in vote fraud.
Initial MDC polling estimates had given Tsvangirai 50.3 percent of the vote. However, independent estimates and estimates from the ruling ZANU-PF party suggested he would not win an outright majority.
While the MDC had announced that Tsvangirai would not enter a runoff election, he will reportedly take part despite the announcement.
The delay in election results has heightened fears of violence and persecution by Zimbabwean security forces of MDC supporters has been reported. Zimbabwe has suffered economic ruin under Mugabe since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.