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Archive of May 6, 2008

Philippines cardinal bars cross-dressers from Marian processions

Manila, Philippines, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has forbidden cross-dressing homosexuals from dressing up as female saints in religious processions, calling the actions an “insult to the Blessed Mother.”

Every May, Catholics throughout the Philippines hold a “Santacruzan” flower festival in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Speaking to the church-run Radio Veritas on Monday, Cardinal Rosales said the cross-dressing was “horrendous” and “defeats the real purpose” of the procession.  He said that the Catholic faithful should keep religious festivals sacred and solemn at all times.

"Gays should not be allowed to participate in Santacruzan since it defeats the true meaning of the celebration," he said.  “I am not angry at gay men. But, I am against what they're actually doing.

“We should keep sacred what is sacred.”

In the past, the cardinal has refused to give his blessing to any parish that allows homosexuals to join the Santacruzan procession, telling one parish they were destroying “the purity of the devotion."

“That's horrendous. That's an insult to the Blessed Mother,” he said.

The Church will ban any parish that disregards the warning from holding Masses.

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California newborn 'safe surrender' program barely being funded, audit reveals

Sacramento, Calif., May 6, 2008 (CNA) - The California state government is no longer funding public awareness efforts for a state program that allows people legally and anonymously to leave newborn infants at “safe surrender” locations.

According to the California Catholic Daily, California’s “safe surrender” program allows anyone with legal custody of an infant three days old or younger to leave the baby at a hospital, fire station, or other designated location.  The program was approved in 2000 after a series of high-profile incidents in which parents or other adults abandoned newborns to die.

Since the safe surrender program went into effect in January 2001, statewide 218 babies have been left at designated locations.  According to a state auditor’s report released on April 29, the program “is not as effective as it might be.”  In Los Angeles County since 2001, 57 babies have been abandoned, 45 of whom died.

Through December 2003 the state government spent $1.8 million to educate the public about the program.  The initial campaign consisted of public service announcements broadcast in the state’s five largest radio and television markets.  California Social Services has not attempted to secure more funding since 2002, saying further outreach was unnecessary.

Auditors say that no further state money has been spent on the program.  Governor Gray Davis vetoed a bill to fund an awareness campaign because its funding would have surpassed budget requirements.  Davis’ successor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed another bill because it extended the time period for babies to be surrendered to seven days.

California Social Services’ obligation to oversee the program ended in 2006, after which the state’s counties have been left to promote and oversee the program.  According to the auditor’s report, Los Angeles County has committed the most resources to the safe surrender program.  The county has developed middle and high school courses to inform students about the program and requires government employees to receive fact sheets about it. 

Though the county spent $500,000 on the safe surrender program in its first four years, recently it has spent only $15,000 per year.  According to the California Catholic Daily, the county at present has no money for the program, relying upon free public service announcements on local cable television stations.

Debbe Magnusen, founder of Project Cuddle, a private Orange County program that has saved 631 babies since 1996, told the Los Angeles Times that the state’s neglect of the safe surrender program is “gut-wrenching.”

“I think the state can do so much more if they collaborate with private groups," she said.

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Holy Father sends message to cyclone victims

Vatican City, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone has sent a telegram, in Pope Benedict’s name, to Archbishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng of Mandalay, and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar.  The Holy Father assured the people of Myanmar of his prayers for peace and strength as the death toll from Cyclone Nargis continues to rise.

“Deeply saddened by news of the tragic aftermath of the recent cyclone, the Holy Father expresses his heartfelt sympathy. With prayers for the victims and their families, he invokes God's peace upon the dead and divine strength and comfort upon the homeless and all who are suffering. Confident that the international community will respond with generous and effective relief to the needs of your countrymen, His Holiness asks you to convey his solidarity and concern to the civil authorities and to all the beloved people of Myanmar.”

According to CNN, a Myanmar government radio station has reported that the death toll has exceeded 22,000 with 41,000 additional people reported missing after Cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian country with wind speeds nearing 120 miles per hour on Friday night.

While the country has asked for aid, U.N. groups have not yet been able to acquire visas to enter the country.  Bush stated that the U.S. Navy is prepared to offer assistance when the Myanmar government allows them into the country.

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Pope seeks Christian unity, welcomes head of Armenian Apostolic Church

Vatican City, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Continuing his efforts to build Christian unity, Pope Benedict XVI will be welcoming His Holiness Karekin II, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, for a three day visit, May 6-9.

Karekin II’s trip is one that will include several liturgical celebrations and opportunities for dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout his visit, he will be accompanied by an entourage of 18 bishops as well as 75 faithful from Armenia and other countries in the region.

The schedule for the visit is packed with events.

On Wednesday, after having prayed at the tomb of St. Peter and visited the statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the saint who converted Armenia to Christianity, Karekin II will be welcomed by Pope Benedict at the beginning of the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

In the afternoon, the Catholicos will receive a doctorate "honoris causa" in "the theology of youth pastoral care" from the Pontifical Salesian University. Patriarch Karekin is known for his use of technology, especially television broadcasts, as a tool of evangelization and outreach, according to the Armenian Church of America’s web site.

On Thursday, the Patriarch will visit the Pontifical Armenian College and, during the afternoon, participate in an academic congress being held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute on "holy sacrifice in the Armenian tradition".

His Holiness Karekin II and those accompanying him will visit the offices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on Friday morning.

Benedict XVI will then meet privately with Karekin II in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. After the private meeting between the two leaders, the 18 Armenian Apostolic bishops will be received in audience by the Pope.

Later in the day on Friday, the two church leaders will jointly preside over a celebration of the Word with the Armenian Apostolic delegation.

The Catholicos and his entourage will conclude their visit by praying Vespers at the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

Karekin II has had good relations with the Roman Catholic Church since his election in October 1999. A statement issued announcing the visit describes past joint declarations signed between the Pope and the Catholicos as significant, since they deal with “questions of great ecumenical importance in the historical, theological and pastoral fields.”

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Three U.S. prelates given Vatican slots by Benedict XVI

Vatican City, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Today Pope Benedict appointed members to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and the Congregation for the Clergy. Among the appointees are two American archbishops and one cardinal. 

The Council for Legislative Texts’ main task consists of interpreting the laws of the Church – both the laws concerning the Latin Rite and the common laws of the Eastern Catholic churches.

The new appointments are: Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India; William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Archbishops John Joseph Myers of Newark, U.S.A., and Raymond Leo Burke of Saint Louis, U.S.A.

The Congregation for the Clergy deals with the formation and continual training of priests. It also oversees any efforts to enhance the pastoral ministry of priests and the distribution of clergy around the world.

Pope Benedict has appointed Cardinals Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada, and Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela to the congregation.

Also appointed by the Holy Father are: Archbishops Tomash Peta of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan; Raymond Leo Burke of Saint Louis, U.S.A. and Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands.

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Ever seen the message in a movie? – New Catholic website launches

London, England, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Press Release: 

A new Catholic website (www.soulfoodcinema.com) launches today with the aim of educating and evangelizing through the medium of the movies.
 
Soulfoodcinema differs from other faith and film websites, in that the focus is on providing education and insights for those that are curious after having watched a film, rather than providing extensive ratings and reviews for those that are curious before watching a film.
 
Managing Editor Mark Banks is keen to remind people that the worldwide film industry now produces hundreds of films each year that can primarily be described as ‘character studies’, and says that these films, whether we are aware of it or not, are all communicating a message to us, either implicitly or explicitly, on how to lead our lives. In such a world Mark believes it important that Catholics filled with the Holy Spirit and a love for Jesus Christ, use their wisdom, knowledge and discernment to understand these messages and to communicate them to as wide an audience as possible; especially amongst young people. For this reason Soulfoodcinema enables readers to contribute essays on one of over 700 films already viewed by the Managing Editor, which can then be published on the internet.
 
Soulfoodcinema also features weekly updates of links to news stories in the field of faith and film, as well as a community chat room dedicated to discussing all aspects of the movies from a Catholic-Christian point of view.
 
Through his letter to the Romans Saint Paul reminds us "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will" (12:2). Mark asks that Catholics pray Soulfoodcinema will assist the Church in doing just that.

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Gift from John Paul II to second oldest bishop in the world stolen

Rome, Italy, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Italian police are seeking two young people accused of having stolen objects of value from Bishop Antonio Rosario Mennonna, the second oldest bishop in the world.

Among the objects stolen was a cross given to him by John Paul II, a chalice, rings and calligraphy pens, according to reports by the Italian media.

Both of the accused, aged 18 and 19 and from the city of Rome, worked for the bishop at his home in Muro Lucano in southern Italy.  After stealing the items they fled unexpectedly.

The first to report the theft was the bishop’s nephew who lives with him and found some of his own items to be missing as well.  Bishop Mennonna will turn 102 on May 27 and is the second oldest bishop of the world, after Vietnamese Bishop Antoine Nguyên Van Thien, who turned 102 on March 13, according to the latest information from the Catholic portal www.catholic-hierarchy.org

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Human rights cannot be “invented,” says Peruvian cardinal

Lima, Peru, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - During his weekly radio program, the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, said human rights are recognized, not “invented” by international organizations, as they respond to natural law and not to the arbitrariness of U.N. conventions.

“Human rights are based on natural law, a law that is inscribed in the heart of man, in the different cultures and civilizations,” the cardinal said.  “Every man receives them by nature, by the fact of being a person, because they are part of our very identity. They are not bestowed by the U.N. or by any law or organization,” he stressed.

The cardinal warned against efforts to create new “rights” for alleged minorities, which run the risk of making the expression “human rights” subjective.

Cardinal Cipriani also cautioned that some organizations manipulate the concept of rights and “limit their action exclusively to political rights of a specific ‘color’ or ideology.

Consequently they are misinforming and confusing the people, because we all defend human rights,” he warned, pointing specifically to the so-called “right to one’s body” which feminist organizations appeal to in order to justify the legalization of abortion.

“That is not a natural right, a woman did not give herself her body on her own,” the cardinal said, explaining that the new life in a woman is not part of her own body.  “What we have is a right to health and physical integrity,” he said.

Cardinal Cipriani also recalled that “there are many human rights that have corresponding human duties and that go together.  Often we hear complaints about rights we don’t have and silence about the duties we do not fulfill,” he said.

He went on to point out that there does exist the right to strike and to form unions, but “there is no right to act with violence, mistreating others, blocking the streets and destroying private property, because that is not found in any human right.”

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Mothers in Spain underappreciated, not supported by the government, says family institute

Madrid, Spain, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - As Mother’s Day was marked in Spain on Sunday, the president of the Institute for Family Policy, Eduardo Hertfelder, commented, “There isn’t much reason to celebrate it,” as mothers “are not only underappreciated in Spain, they also lack the support” of the government.

Hertfelder noted that mothers in Spain “do not have the necessary social and political support.”  Although “Mother’s Day is widely celebrated in Spain and expresses a social appreciation for mothers and for maternity,” the support of the government “is ridiculous in Spain, as Spanish public policy for the family is the stingiest in all of Europe.”

The economic, legal and social obstacles “are so great that Spanish women are not guaranteed the right to have the number of children they desire, and the obstacles that prevent that are not eliminated,” he continued.  Therefore, “we are not only last in Europe in assistance per child, we are the country that provides the least help to families,” Hertfelder stressed.

He noted that the “balancing of professional life and family life is still very deficient” in Spain and that “when a couple has a child there is no public assistance policy allowing one of the spouses to request a leave of absence to care for their children.”

“Public officials are not eliminating the obstacles that prevent couples from having the children they want,” Hertfelder indicated, adding that for this reason the birth rate in Spain is declining, with relief coming solely from immigration in recent years.

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Catholic education should go hand-in-hand with renewal of faith, says Spanish cardinal

Valencia, Fla., May 6, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco, recalled that during his recent visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the meaning of Catholic education, indicating that it must be oriented, among other things, towards making the faith tangible. 

“Benedict XVI also speaks to us about another aspect of our convictions in education: ‘In our universities and schools, is the faith tangible?  Is it fervently expressed in the liturgy, in the sacraments, through prayer, acts of charity, the struggle for justice and respect for God’s creation? Only in this way do we give true testimony about the meaning of who we are and what we believe,” the cardinal stressed.

In order to make the faith tangible, Cardinal Garcia-Gasco continued, one must cultivate a friendship with God, and “full communion with the Holy Father and the diocesan bishop.” This connection is “essential for Catholic universities and schools to authentically maintain their identity,” he said.

On the other hand, the cardinal wrote in his weekly letter, Catholic educators are called to grow in their love for Jesus Christ so that they grow in their understanding of the meaning of their mission.  This growth, he explained, “prevents the authentic educator from living divided, with one type of conduct at work, another at home and another in public and social life, as unfortunately happens with many of our colleagues, especially if they exercise positions of responsibilities.”

Cardinal Garcia-Gasco recalled that during his visit to the U.S., Pope Benedict XVI also referred to the “contemporary ‘crisis of truth,’ which is rooted in a ‘crisis of faith’.”  He emphasized that only through faith “can we freely give our assent to God’s testimony and recognize Him as the transcendent guarantor of the truth that He reveals.”

To read any of the speeches that Pope Benedict gave during his visit to the U.S. click here or go to http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/usa08/addresses.php

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Population control movement is 'Number One violator of human rights,' author claims

Front Royal, Va., May 6, 2008 (CNA) - Some population theorists warn that the world, with its continual increase in population, will eventually be unable to sustain the human population. Steve Mosher, the president of the Population Research Institute, argues in his newly released book that the movement that advances this worldview is demographically ignorant and the “Number One violator of human rights.” 

Mosher’s book "Population Control—Real Costs, Illusory Benefits," just published by Transaction Press, details how the population control movement has harmed hundreds of millions of women, children and families with its policies.

"Population Control—Real Costs, Illusory Benefits," is the fruit of Mosher’s lifelong passion for demographics, which he harnesses to craft a compelling argument against population control. According to Mosher, “Overpopulation is a myth. In fact, evidence is plentiful that policymakers and population controllers, with billions at their disposal, have ignored their own multiple failures.”

“From its origins in racial hysteria and demographic ignorance to its state-sanctioned and funded rise to the mainstream, Mosher describes the population control movement as, “the world's Number One violator of human rights,” a press release from PRI says. 

In his book, Mosher dismisses any sort of utilitarian concept of rights, saying, "Abuses of basic rights, such as the right to bear children, cannot be expunged by reference to any calculus of costs versus benefits, any more than comparable violations of other basic human rights can be explained away, excused, or justified by reference to a supposedly larger social good."

One colleague of Mosher’s, Allan Carlson of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, writes that "Population Control" is "crisp and compelling; the message both disturbing and illuminating; the concluding call for a pro-natalist future hopeful." In it, Mosher is able to "ably express" the motives of population controllers, and their "open acts of violence against women and children."

For more information on "Population Control—Real Costs, Illusory Benefits," and Mosher’s organization the Population Research Institute please visit: http://www.pop.org/index.cfm

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National Shrine accepting names for Mother’s Day Novena

Washington D.C., May 6, 2008 (CNA) - This coming Sunday, May 11, the Basilica of the National Shrine will begin its Novena of Masses for mothers. On each of the nine days, a Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica for those who are enrolled in the Mother’s Day Novena.

Anyone who wishes to enroll their mother in the Novena list can do so online. Donations on behalf of mothers can also be made online.

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Judge approves Catholic newspaper’s lawsuit to use “Allah”

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 6, 2008 (CNA) - A judge in Malaysia ruled on Monday that a Catholic newspaper’s lawsuit that seeks to secure the right to use the word “Allah” may proceed, the Associated Press reports.

 

The Herald newspaper is seeking to overturn a government order prohibiting the paper from using the word “Allah” for God in its Malay-language section.  The government says the word refers only to the Muslim God and its use by non-Muslims might confuse Muslim believers.

 

In addition to revoking the prohibition, the newspaper also wants the court to rule that the word “Allah” is not for the exclusive use of Muslims. 

 

The Herald has argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that predates Islam and has been used for centuries to mean “God” in the Malay language.

 

High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan has ruled that prosecutors’ objections to the newspaper’s lawsuit were “without merit.”  She said she will allow the newspaper to contest the ban in court.

 

"The court agreed that the church's application is not frivolous nor vexatious nor an abuse of process. It deserves to be heard," said Derek Fernandez, a lawyer for The Herald.  He told reporters that the court will set a trial date at another time.

 

Religious minorities in Malaysia have increasingly complained that their rights are being undermined by government efforts favoring Islam, Malaysia’s official religion.  Ethnic Malays, nearly all of whom are Muslim, comprise about 60 percent of the country’s 27 million people.  Ethnic Chinese and Indians are the largest minorities and are predominantly Buddhist, Christian or Hindu.

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