Archive of May 19, 2008

Effective evangelists are ‘specialists’ in listening to God, Pope teaches

Vatican City, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - On Sunday Pope Benedict met with a group of consecrated people at St. Lawrence Cathedral in Genoa. The consecrated faithful heard words of encouragement from the Pope to remain committed to their work of evangelization.

"This cathedral, surrounded by so many alleyways," the Holy Father said as he drew upon the architecture to point his listeners to the spiritual legacy of the church. It "seems to be the place of convergence and arrival of all roads, as if from the shade of the narrow lanes men wish to come out into the light of their cathedral ... into the light of God which welcomes, embraces, illuminates and restores everyone."

The Pope also brought to mind the “past centuries” during which “the Church in Genoa has had a rich tradition of holiness and generous service to others. ... And even today, despite the difficulties society is undergoing, evangelizing passion remains strong in your communities.”

Today the Genoese Church has shown “a growing and shared desire to create ever more fraternal understanding in order to collaborate in missionary activity throughout the archdiocese. Indeed, following the guidelines of the Italian Episcopal Conference, you wish to place yourselves in a permanent state of mission, as a form of witness to the joy of the Gospel and an explicit invitation to everyone to meet Jesus Christ," the Pope said.

In order to cultivate this missionary spirit, the Holy Father called on the faithful "to become 'specialists' in listening to God and credible examples of a holiness that translates into faithfulness to the Gospel, without surrender to the spirit of the world.”

The Pope invited those present to continue their good works, especially their presence near "the poor, the sick, families, children, parishes." All this, he added, "is a precious field of service and of giving, in order to build the Church and serve mankind."

"Genoa's long spiritual tradition includes six Popes, among whom I particularly mention Benedict XV ... the Pope of peace. In his 'Humani generis redemptionem' he wrote that 'what makes the human word capable of benefiting souls is the grace of God.' Let us never forget this. ... In order to be witnesses and heralds of the message of salvation we cannot rely only on our human energy. It is the faithfulness of God that stimulates and conforms our own faithfulness to Him. Hence let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of truth and love."

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Vatican says prohibition against gays in seminaries is universal

Vatican City, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI reaffirming the norms established by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the 2005 document, “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders,” as universal and without exceptions.
In the brief “Rescriptum ex audientia” –a written response to various queries—Cardinal Bertone said the norms establishing the selection of candidates to the priesthood are valid “for all houses of formation for the priesthood, including those under the Dicasteries for Eastern Churches, for the Evangelization of Peoples, and for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.”

The letter, which Cardinal Bertone said was issued in response “to numerous requests for clarification,” implies that the prohibition against accepting homosexual candidates in seminaries applies not only to diocesan seminaries but also to those of religious orders and congregations, as well as to those that are located in mission territories.

The 2005 Instruction indicated the Congregation for Catholic Education, “in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'."

"Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies," the 2005 document also said.

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Pope calls on Pontifical Missionary Works to reach all nations

Genoa, Italy, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - On Saturday the Holy Father received representatives of the Pontifical Missionary Works, a group of organizations serving "to put into effect the missionary mandate to evangelize people unto the ends of the earth.”  In the words of Christ, he called them to “make disciples of all nations.”

The Pope recalled how the Pontifical Missionary Works (POM) has been of high importance for his predecessors, “who elevated it to the rank of 'Pontifical' and urged bishops to establish it in their own dioceses." He also reminded the representatives that Vatican Council II emphasized the “nature and mission of particular Churches, recognizing their full dignity and missionary responsibility.”

The Holy Father further explained this mission as the “task and duty of all Churches” and is one of communion – which is urgently needed to combat the dividing effects of sin.  “To counter the seeds of the fragmentation of humanity, which daily experience shows to be so deep-rooted in mankind because of sin, the local Church opposes the unifying power of the Body of Christ."

Healing the division of the Body of Christ was a theme of St. Paul’s that the Pope reflected on, pointing to the Apostle’s teaching that “redemption and mission are acts of love.”  The Pope explained that “It was love of Christ that impelled him to follow the roads of the Roman empire as a herald ... of the Gospel,” and a love that “must impel us to announce to all mankind, frankly and courageously, the truth that saves.”

The Holy Father concluded with the words of Christ: “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  This instruction from Jesus, he said, represents “an obligation for the whole Church and for each individual member of Christ's faithful.”

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Vatican expo points out the divine and human dimensions of water

Vatican City, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - “Expo Zaragoza 2008,” an international exposition with the theme, “Water and sustainable development was presented today at the Holy See Press Office.  The expo will be held in Zaragoza, Spain from June 14 – September 14.

In his remarks, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, expressed the hope that the forthcoming exposition "will provide an opportunity to explore and raise awareness of water in the life of the world. This will be important for two reasons. First, the Social Doctrine of the Church recognizes the nature of water as life-giving. ... Satisfying the needs of all, especially of those who live in poverty, must guide the use of water and of the services connected with it," he said.

"The second reason takes us back to our faith. At our Baptism, water was used as a sign of cleansing and new life. ... Water is life giving - both physical and spiritual; it is through water that we are invited to share in the life of Christ."

The cardinal also recalled one of the goals of the United Nations’ Millennium Development, to halve the number of people unable to access safe drinking water by the year 2015.  He pointed out that “clean water and safe sanitation are acknowledged as essential elements in the lives of every human being."

A guided tour of the expo is divided into three stages: The first presents water as a life-source; the second contains art associated with water and its role in Salvation History; and the third is dedicated to the many people who have limited access to this vital element and need to solve this problem.

The Holy See will also participate in an international ecological congress promoted by the expo, to be held from July 10-12, on the theme: "The ecological question: the life of man in the world."  It has been organized by the archdiocese of Zaragoza and the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, and will be attended by numerous international experts on the subject.


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Mass for repose of Cardinal Gantin's soul to be offered

Vatican City, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - On Friday May 23, Cardinal Angelo Sodano will offer a Mass for Cardinal Bernardin Gantin at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica.

The 11 a.m. Mass will be offered for the former dean of the College of Cardinals by the current dean of the college. Members of the college will also be present at the Mass.

Cardinal Gantin died in Paris, France, on May 13 at the age of 86. At the end of Friday's Eucharistic celebration, Benedict XVI will deliver a speech and impart his apostolic blessing.

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Judge refuses to halt investigation into clandestine clinic in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - Judge Aluizio Pereira dos Santos, who is handling a case against Doctor Neide Motta, accused of operating a clandestine abortion clinic for over 20 years in the Brazilian town of Campo Grande, refused to bow to pressure from abortion supporters to stop investigations into the clinic’s activities.

The Brazilian House of Representatives’ Committee on Human Rights and Minorities had asked the court not to investigate the thousands of women who supposedly underwent illegal abortions at the clinic, arguing that to do so would amount to discrimination. Pereira dos Santos met with Pompeo de Mattos, the committee president, to explain that the law demands openness in these kinds of cases, and lawmakers responded by demanding the norms be changed.

Some 10,000 patient files were found at the illegal clinic.  Judge Pereira dos Santos noted that Brazilian law declares illegal abortions to be a crime and punishable by up to three years in prison.

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'Not One Step Back': A song to promote conscientious objection in Spain

Madrid, Spain, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish organization Professionals for Ethics has released a music video of a song promoting the right of parents to conscientiously object to the government-sponsored course Education for Citizenship.

The purpose of the initiative is to raise funds and secure sponsors for distributing information about the right to object to the controversial course.  The song is called, “Ni un paso atrás” (Not One Step Back) and the video can be seen on 

The organization said it planned to print 25,000 DVDs of the video and distribute them to parents to help them resist attempts to force their children to attend the course.  The DVD will include the video of the song, as well as additional legal and practical information.

“We are in negotiations with a national weekly about having the DVD included as an insert,” representatives of the organization said.  They also explained the need for sponsors to cover the costs of producing the DVD. More information on collaborating with the project can be obtained by writing [email protected]

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Denver archbishop calls on Catholics for Obama to face the senator’s views on abortion

Denver, Colo., May 19, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver is calling on the group Roman Catholics for Obama ‘08 to convince Sen. Barack Obama to become pro-life, instead of overlooking his support for abortion in favor of other issues of concern to Catholics.

Recalling his own political involvement in the Bobby Kennedy’s campaign in 1968, his support for Jimmy Carter’s first presidential bid and then his subsequent re-election campaign, Archbishop Chaput explains how he came to his convictions about politics and abortion. 

Archbishop Chaput writes in a column titled, “Thoughts on ‘Roman Catholics for Obama’,” he “eventually got involved with the 1980 Colorado campaign for Carter’s re-election.”

“Carter had one serious strike against him.  The U.S. Supreme Court had legalized abortion on demand in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and Carter the candidate waffled about restricting it.  At the time, I knew Carter was wrong in his views about Roe v. Wade and soft toward permissive abortion.  But even as a priest, I justified working for him because he wasn't aggressively ‘pro-choice’.” 

Chaput acknowledges that Carter “held a bad position on a vital issue, but I believed he was right on so many more of the ‘Catholic’ issues than his opponent seemed to be.  The moral calculus looked easy.  I thought we could remedy the abortion problem after Carter was safely returned to office.”

Yet, Carter lost his re-election bid, and the archbishop notes that “even with an avowedly pro-life Ronald Reagan as president, the belligerence, dishonesty and inflexibility of the ‘pro-choice’ lobby has stymied almost every effort to protect unborn human life since.” 

What changed Chaput’s mind about his earlier decision to support a “pro-choice” candidate was that he began to notice “that very few of the people, including Catholics, who claimed to be ‘personally opposed’ to abortion really did anything about it.  Nor did they intend to. For most, their personal opposition was little more than pious hand wringing and a convenient excuse -- exactly as it is today.”

“In fact,” the archbishop says, “I can't name any ‘pro-choice’ Catholic politician who has been active, in a sustained public way, in trying to discourage abortion and to protect unborn human life -- not one.” 

Instead, the situation has become one in which, “In the United States in 2008, abortion is an acceptable form of homicide,” Chaput says.

Archbishop Chaput writes that the situation will only change when “Catholics force their political parties and elected officials to act differently.”

At the beginning of 2008, Archbishop Chaput wrote a column which focused on the role of Catholics in the public square. The archbishop’s January 16 column explained how this type of interaction between Catholic voters and the political parties should take place.

Archbishop Chaput wrote:

"So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can't, and I won't. But I do know some serious Catholics -- people whom I admire -- who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don't keep quiet about it; they don't give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite -- not because of -- their pro-choice views."

“But [Catholics who support ‘pro-choice’ candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it.  What is a ‘proportionate’ reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.”

However, the archbishop points out that Roman Catholics for Obama chose to use only the first paragraph of his explanation as justification for their support of Sen. Barack Obama, an unflinching supporter of abortion.

According to their website, the Obama supporters say that they have faithfully thought and prayed about who they should support and “have arrived at the conclusion that Senator Obama is the candidate whose views are most compatible with the Catholic outlook, and we will vote for him because of that -- and because of his other outstanding qualities -- despite our disagreements with him in specific areas.”

Noting in his column today that this kind of moral calculus sounds like the same reasoning he used 30 years ago, Archbishop Chaput says, “30 years later we still have about a million abortions a year.” 

While holding out the possibility that “Roman Catholics for Obama will do a better job at influencing their candidate,” Chaput also highlights the February 2008, ‘100 percent pro-choice voting record both in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois Senate,’ that the senator received from the Planned Parenthood of Chicago.  

The archbishop closes by saying, “Changing the views of ‘pro-choice’ candidates takes a lot more than verbal gymnastics, good alibis and pious talk about ‘personal opposition’ to killing unborn children.  I’m sure Roman Catholics for Obama know that, and I wish them good luck.  They’ll need it.”

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State-run newspaper in Cuba concedes abortion’s risks to justify using abortifacient drugs

Havana, Cuba, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - An article in the Cuban Communist daily “Granma” has acknowledged the dangers of surgical abortion, even those performed under what it calls “optimal” conditions, as a means of promoting the spread of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs.

The newspaper reported that “60% of women who are infertile have previously undergone at least one abortion.”  It said that even in optimal medical conditions, abortions can lead to serious problems, such as infections, bleeding, perforation of the uterus “and even the endangering of the mother’s life.”

“Abortion is a risky procedure, which is done in the blind, and can have complications even when it is performed by an expert and under the best care,” the newspaper admitted.

“Many of the disorders that these invasive techniques cause are ‘silent’ and show up over the long-term, such as inflammation that damages the reproductive system, especially the fallopian tubes,” the newspaper reported.

The Communist daily said Cuban officials were worried about the high number of abortions, “although the main objective of the family planning policies in the country is to diminish this practice which at the same time is essential, and to address the health problems it causes.”

For this reason, it continued, the government plans to improve contraceptive services and offer a greater variety of contraception, including the abortifacient drug Misoprostol, which will be made available in 96 hospitals in Cuba.

Efforts by officials thus far have not led to a decrease in the number of abortions and 80% of abortions in Cuba are drug-induced.

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Three thousand families to host missionaries for congress in Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - Three thousand Catholic families in Ecuador will open their homes to missionaries from around the world who will be traveling to the country to participate in the Third American Missionary Congress (CAM3), which will be held in Quito August 12-17.

Sister Alba Luz Espinoza of the CAM3 welcoming committee, said the gesture “confirms the Catholic spirit of solidarity” of Ecuadorians.  Host families will receive a pamphlet explaining how to prepare for the event, which includes a prayer composed by Pope Benedict XVI for CAM3 and reflections on missionary work in today’s world. 

Organizers said the families will participate in three formation sessions to prepare them to host their guests and be given a symbolic candle that will serve as a focal point of prayer for the event.

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Archbishop Gomez urges graduates to help open dialogue with American culture

San Antonio, Texas, May 19, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of San Antonio Jose Gomez delivered the commencement address at the Oblate School of Theology on Friday, telling the graduates to unite reason with faith to overcome the self-limitations of modern thinking.  He also exhorted the students to help promote a dialogue with the American culture by seeking and defending the truth.

Archbishop Gomez spoke in place of Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, a prominent American theologian who cancelled his appearance because of health concerns.  Archbishop Gomez spoke to the graduates about the life of Cardinal Dulles, who converted to Catholicism in 1936 while he was a student at Harvard.  Though not a religious believer when he entered college, he remained a “seeker after truth” who “discovered and came to fall in love with the great figure of Jesus Christ.”

“Dear graduates,” Archbishop Gomez said, “the world Cardinal Dulles found at Harvard is a world very much like the world you are ‘commencing’ into today.”  Like Cardinal Dulles, he said, graduates face the task of remaining open to the truth and proclaiming God in a world indifferent to Him.

The archbishop said he hoped that the students and their teachers will “help the Church enable the world to know God again.”

“What’s happened in our culture is what Pope Benedict calls ‘the self-limitation of reason.’ We’ve told ourselves that there are certain things we can’t ever really know. We’ve made the decision to limit our reason to only certain kinds of knowledge,” he said.

This self-limitation, Archbishop Gomez said, shows a “crucial need” for the Church to open a new dialogue with American culture.  “That dialogue must be an important part of your ministries and your witness to the faith, no matter where our Lord leads you in your journey,” said the archbishop.

“My friends,” he said, “what reason and science have discovered about the world does not contradict what we know by faith. It radically confirms it, if we understand the findings of faith and reason correctly. You have learned this here in school. It is time for you to bring this wisdom to our world.”

However, he said, faith uniquely reveals to us something crucial.

“Faith reveals to us that divine Reason, the Word through whom all things are made and sustained, is also divine Love. Again, the Scriptures reveal that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8) and that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ (John 3:16).

“This is why faith and reason can never be separated. Because without faith, we can only discover how the world works. But not why.”

The archbishop exhorted the graduates not to separate this faith from reason, saying, “Do not let anyone tell you that the truths of your faith are just feelings, emotions, something you can’t prove. Something you do on Sunday and put away for the rest of the week. You know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)”

Archbishop Gomez quoted from Pope Benedict XVI’s first homily as Pope, a homily the archbishop said he never tired of quoting.

In that homily, the Pope said, “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”

Archbishop Gomez closed with prayers for the graduates, saying, “I pray that the Spirit of truth will guide you into all the truth.  And may Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of Truth, bring you the joy and happiness you seek.” 

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Cardinal Mahony bars Australian bishop with 'doctrinal difficulties' from archdiocese

Los Angeles, Calif., May 19, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Roger Mahony has denied an Australian bishop permission to speak in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles after the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a statement warning of “doctrinal difficulties” present in the bishop’s writings.

In 2007 Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, the retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney, published a book titled “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus.”  Bishop Robinson argued in his book that because the Church refuses to reexamine Catholic teachings on extramarital sex, women priests, homosexuality, and papal power, the Church is not serious about responding to clerical sexual abuse but is only “managing” it.

In a May 8 statement, the Australian bishops said that Bishop Robinson’s questioning of the authority of the Catholic Church to teach the truth definitively is connected to the bishop’s “uncertainty about the knowledge and authority of Christ himself.”

Bishop Robinson is presently on a U.S. lecture tour sponsored by Voice of the Faithful, an activist group formed in response to the clerical sexual abuse scandal.  He responded to the Australian bishops’ statement in a May 15 letter, which is posted on the web site of Voice of the Faithful.  He said the statement was “disappointing,” and continued:

“In their statement, the bishops appear to be saying that, in seeking to respond to abuse, we may investigate all other factors contributing to abuse, but we may not ask questions concerning ways in which teachings, laws, and attitudes concerning power and sex within the church may have contributed.

“This imposes impossible restrictions on any serious and objective study, and it is where I have broken from the Bishops Conference. We must be free to follow the argument wherever it leads.”

Pope Benedict XVI in his April visit to the U.S. had encouraged academics “to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you,” but he also said “any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church” would obstruct the academic duty to teach the truth.

Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony in a May 9 letter asked Bishop Robinson not to speak in his archdiocese.

Saying he was “once again” writing regarding Bishop Robinson’s scheduled June 12 speaking engagement in the archdiocese, Cardinal Mahony said, “Your letter informing me of your coming appearance made it clear that you were not seeking my permission or approval, that you were planning to come regardless.”

In his letter, Cardinal Mahony said he had recently learned of the Australian bishops’ statement about the bishop’s book.  He also said he had learned that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, has urged Bishop Robinson to cancel his U.S. visit.

Cardinal Mahony requested Bishop Robinson to cancel his visit, citing Canon 763 of Canon Law.  The canon pertains to a bishop’s duty to safeguard the teachings of the Church in his diocese. 

“Under the provisions of Canon 763, I hereby deny you permission to speak in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” the cardinal wrote.  He also urged Bishop Robinson to cancel his entire speaking tour and to work with the Australian bishops’ conference, saying he would expect him to “follow exactly” their recommendations.

Dan Bartley, president of Voice of the Faithful, criticized Cardinal Mahony’s refusal of permission to Bishop Robinson’s Los Angeles lecture. 

“Why is a loyal Catholic bishop prevented from asking honest questions in his search for the truth in the aftermath of the worst scandal in the modern Church?” Bartley said.

A statement from Voice of the Faithful said the ban would harm the Church, saying Bishop Robinson “obviously loves the Church.”  The statement suggested that the Australian bishops’ statement was questionable in its conclusions about Bishop Robinson’s doctrinal stands.

Bishop Robinson’s lecture tour has scheduled events in Boston, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

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