Archive of May 23, 2008

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos to ordain four as priests for Latin Mass fraternity

Denton, Neb., May 23, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, will ordain four men to the priesthood for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter on Friday, May 30.

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) was established in 1988 under Pope John Paul II and has nearly 200 priests and over 100 seminarians studying in Bavaria and Nebraska.  The fraternity’s stated purpose is the sanctification of priests through the faithful celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, also known as the Tridentine Latin Mass.

As president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos oversees matters concerning the Extraordinary Form. 

The men will be ordained at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The ordination Mass will be broadcast on EWTN at 11 a.m. (EST).

The FSSP’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, located in rural Denton, Nebraska, has become a global center of study for those interested in the Extraordinary Form.  In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a Motu proprio expanding permission for the celebration of the older liturgy.

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Chimpanzee should be a legal person, animal rights activists say

Strausburg, Pa., May 23, 2008 (CNA) - Animal rights advocates are appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to declare a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Matthew to be a legal person.

British teacher Paula Stibbe and activists with the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories want to declare Matthew a person so that Stibbe may be appointed his legal guardian if the bankrupt animal sanctuary where Matthew lives in Vienna shuts down, the Evening Standard says.

Matthew lives with another chimpanzee and a crocodile in an animal shelter.  The shelter requires about $8,000 each month in expenses.  While donors have sought to support Matthew, under Austrian law only humans may receive personal gifts. 

Austrian law also limits legal guardianship to humans.

Austria’s Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling rejecting the activists’ request to have a trustee appointed for Matthew.  The lower court ruled that the animal was neither mentally impaired nor in danger.

“Everybody who knows him personally will see him as a person,” said the 36-year-old Stibbe, who was born in England but lives in Vienna.

“In his home in the African jungle, he would have been well able to look after himself without a guardian.  But since he was abducted into an alien environment, traumatized and locked up in an enclosure, it did become necessary for me to act on his behalf to secure the donation money for him and to avoid his deportation.”

“Since he has no close relatives, I am doing this as the person closest to him,” she said, according to the Evening Standard.

Matthew’s supporters argue that only legal personhood will ensure he is not sold to someone outside Austria, where he is protected by the country’s strict animal cruelty laws.

Eberhart Theuer, chief legal adviser for the Association Against Animal Factories, advocated on behalf of the chimpanzee, saying, “His life depends on this decision. This case is about the fundamental question: Who is the bearer of human rights? Who is a person according to the European Human Rights Charter?”

A spokesman for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg said the application regarding the chimpanzee will first be considered by a magistrate and a lawyer before it is decided whether his cause deserves a full hearing.


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Oxford lab to revisit carbon dating of Shroud of Turin

Colorado Springs, Colo., May 23, 2008 (CNA) - A physics professor has persuaded an Oxford laboratory to revisit the question of the age of the Shroud of Turin, the reputed burial shroud of Jesus Christ.  The professor argues that carbon monoxide contaminating the shroud could have distorted its radiocarbon dating results by more than 1,000 years.

In 1988 and 1989 scientists at three laboratories drew on the results of radiocarbon dating to conclude that the shroud was a medieval forgery.  They dated its creation to between 1260 and 1390 AD.

The Denver Post reports that John Jackson, a physics lecturer at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has hypothesized that even minimal contamination of the shroud by environmental carbon monoxide could have skewed the dating by 1,300 years. 

Professor Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, has agreed to test Jackson’s hypothesis.  Ramsey said that other forensic and historical evidence indicates the shroud is much older than radiocarbon dating results initially indicated.

"Science still has much to tell us about the shroud," said Jackson, a devout Catholic who heads the Colorado Springs-based Shroud of Turin Center. "If we are dealing with the burial cloth of Christ, it is the witness to the birth of Christianity. But my faith doesn't depend on that outcome," he told the Denver Post.

Jackson must prove a viable pathway for carbon monoxide contamination.  He is working with Oxford to test linen samples subjected to various conditions the shroud has experienced, including outdoor exhibitions and exposure to extreme heat during a fire in 1532.

In 1978, Jackson led a research team given unprecedented access to the shroud.  The team determined that the shroud was not painted, dyed or stained.

The Shroud of Turin bears faint brown discolorations that form the negative image of a man.  A positive image of the shroud was produced only with the arrival of modern photography.

Forensic data indicates the bloodstains on the shroud are real and were stained on the cloth before the image of the body appeared, the Denver Post reports.  Stains around the head are consistent with punctures by thorns, while the scourge marks are consistent with those made by a Roman whip.  A large puncture wound on the man’s side is also consistent with that made by a Roman spear.

Though medieval iconography portrays Jesus nailed to the cross through his palms and the front of his feet, archaeologists have found the bones of a Roman crucifixion victim nailed through the wrists and heels.

There is no consensus regarding what medieval methods, if any, could have created the shroud.

Though the Vatican keeps the shroud locked in a protective chamber at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, the Catholic Church makes no claims about its authenticity.

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Benedict remembers Cardinal Gantin as filled with the love of Christ

Vatican City, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - Today following a Mass offered for the soul of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, Benedict XVI recalled the life of the prelate, dean emeritus of the College of Cardinals, who died May 13 at the age of 86. The Pope noted how the cardinal dedicated his life to the Church and was the first African prelate to hold a position in the Vatican.

"It is in this perspective of faith and hope in the resurrection that we recall the venerable Cardinal Bernardin Gantin" who was always willing to the serve God and his fellow men, “maintaining faith in the motto he chose at the moment of his episcopal ordination: 'In tuo sancto servitio' (In your holy service)."

The Holy Father spoke of the character of Cardinal Gantin, which he described as "a marvelous blend of the characteristics of the African soul with those of the Christian spirit, of African culture and identification with evangelical values. He was the first African prelate to occupy roles of great responsibility in the Roman Curia.”

Benedict XVI continued by describing experiences he shared with Cardinal Gantin which allowed him to “gain ever greater appreciation of his prudent wisdom, as well as his solid faith and sincere adherence to Christ and to His Vicar on earth, the Pope. Fifty-seven years of priesthood, 51 years of episcopate and 31 as cardinal: this is the summary of a life spent for the Church."

The Pope also provided a brief biography of the cardinal’s life in the Church including: his priestly ordination in 1951; his consecration as bishop in 1957 at the age of 34; the period he spent as Archbishop of Cotonou, capital of his native country of Benin, when he was the first metropolitan of Africa. In 1971, he came to Rome as adjunct secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He later he became secretary of the Congregation and, in 1976, also became president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace." Paul VI elevated him to a cardinal in 1977, and in 1984, John Paul II named him prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

"This friend and brother of ours to whom we today pay homage was permeated with love for Christ, which made him affable and ready to listen and talk to everyone." The love of Christ “encouraged him to look, as he used to say, always to the necessities of the life that lasts, without losing himself in the side issues which quickly pass."  This love "made him see his role in the various offices of the Curia as a service devoid of human ambitions," said the Pontiff.

“It was in this very basilica, celebrating his last Mass before leaving Rome, that he highlighted the unity the Eucharist creates in the Church. In his homily he quoted the famous phrase of the African bishop St. Cyprian of Carthage: 'From here the one faith shines out through the world; from here arises the unity of the priesthood'.” The Pope concluded, “This could be the message we draw from Cardinal Gantin, as his spiritual testament."

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Unite in the face of Church’s problems, Pope tells Albanian bishops

Vatican City, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - Bishops from the Republic of Albania were at the Vatican today to meet with the Holy Father and to visit the tomb of St. Peter. During his audience with the prelates, Benedict XVI called on them to strengthen their cooperation to better face the Church’s problems and difficulties.

In his address to them the Holy Father recalled how, "following the dark night of the communist dictatorship," the Church in Albania "was providentially able to recover, thanks also to the apostolic strength" of Servant of God John Paul II who visited the country in 1993, "reconstituting the Catholic hierarchy for the good of believers and of the Albanian people."

Pope Benedict called upon the bishops to continue to strive for unity within the Albanian Catholic Church by their actions and an awareness of their shared responsibility for the Church. This awareness is essential “to face the problems and difficulties of the Church in Albania,” the Pope said. 

Despite a growing Albanian economy, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. The lack of employment has led large numbers of Albanians to immigrate to other countries, a fact which the Pope addressed with the bishops.

The shifting of the Albanian faithful, both within the country and to other countries, necessitates “the need to engage in dialogue with bishops from other countries, "in order to offer necessary and urgent pastoral assistance,” the Pope told the prelates.  The Pontiff added that he understands “the difficulties of a lack of clergy. I am also aware of the generosity of many of your priests, who work in precarious situations, committed to offering their ministry to the Catholic faithful of Albanian origin in foreign lands."

"Among your priorities, may the promotion of vocations always be a primary concern. On this the future of the Church in Albania depends."

Benedict XVI also noted that the agreement granting non-profit status to the Church in Albania is a positive development and that he trusts that “these provisions may help towards the spiritual reconstruction of the country, given the positive role the Church plays in society."

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Our freedom is greater when we open our hearts to God, says Pope Benedict

Vatican City, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Father sent a message on May 22 for the 97th "Deutscher Katholikentag," a celebration organized by the Catholic laity in Germany.  This year’s event, held in the German city of Osnabruck, focused on the theme, “He brought me out into a broad place.”

In his message for the event attended by nearly 50,000 people, the Pope addressed this theme by writing that many people fear “that the faith may limit their lives, that they may be constrained in the web of the Church's commandments and teachings, and that they will no longer be free to move in the 'broad space' of modern life and thought."

However, "only when our lives have reached the heart of God will they have found that 'broad space' for which we were created. A life without God does not become freer and broader," he explained.

Benedict continued by explaining that our lives can become freer by opening our hearts to God.  In doing so, “one does not need to seek happiness and success or give weight to the opinions of others."  He is "free and generous, open to the call of God" and "can give all of himself faithfully because he knows - wherever he goes - that he is safe in God's hands."

"We trust that the meeting with God, in His word and in the celebration of the Eucharist, may open our hearts and transform us into gushing fonts of faith for others."

The Holy Father exhorted the faithful to participate in the political and social life of their respective countries, using the Gospel as a guide.  Instead of allowing the future to be molded by others, Pope Benedict challenged lay Catholics to “dare to participate in creating the future, in unison with priests and bishops!" 

Benedict also made sure to tell the young people present at Deutscher Katholikentag that he hopes to see them at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia this July.

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Christianity is the most profound revolution in history, Pope declares

Vatican City, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - On Thursday evening Pope Benedict led a series of liturgical events dedicated to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In his homily, the Pontiff declared that the unity brought about in the Eucharist shows that the Christian revolution is the most profound revolution in human history.

The Corpus Christi events began at seven o’clock in the evening on Thursday with the Pope celebrating Mass on the square in front of Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran. He then led a Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major and concluded the evening with a time for the adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist. 

Benedict XVI dedicated his homily at St. John Lateran to explaining how the significance of Corpus Christi can be seen in the three events of the evening. Firstly "our coming together around the altar of the Lord to be together in His presence," secondly "the procession, walking with the Lord," and finally "kneeling before the Lord in adoration."

Beginning with the gathering around the altar of the Lord, the Holy Father quoted St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, where it is written that "there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.' ... In these words," said the Pope, "we feel the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound revolution in human history, which we may experience in the Eucharist where people of different ages, sexes, social conditions and political ideas come together in the presence of the Lord.”

“The Eucharist can never be a private matter,” explained Pope Benedict.  “The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric or exclusive about it. ... We remain united, over and above our differences, ... we open to one another in order to become a single thing in Him."

"Walking with the Lord" was the second aspect of the celebrations that the Pope discussed. The chance to accompany Jesus in the Eucharist allows us to reflect on how He in fact, “raises us up again ... and puts us on the journey with the power of this Bread of life. ... The procession of Corpus Christi teaches us that the Eucharist wants to free us from all distress and discomfort ... so that we can resume the journey with the strength God gives us in Jesus Christ," the Holy Father said.

Moreover, "Without the God-with-us, the God Who is near, how can we sustain the pilgrimage of life, either individually or as a society or a family of peoples?" asked the Pope.

"The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the God who does not leave us to journey alone, but puts Himself at our side and shows us the way. Indeed, it is not enough to keep going, it is important to see where we are going! Progress is not enough if there are no criteria of reference."

Finally, the third element of Corpus Christi, that of "kneeling in adoration before the Lord", is "the most valuable and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today, ... it is a profession of freedom: those who bow to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate themselves before any earthly power, however strong," said the Pope.

As Christians "we prostrate ourselves before God, Who first bowed down towards man ... to save him and give him life, who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet. Adoring the Body of Christ means believing that there, in that piece of bread, Christ is truly present and gives real meaning to life, to the vast universe as to the smallest of creatures, to the whole of human history as to the briefest of lives."

At the conclusion of Mass in front of St. John Lateran, Pope Benedict XVI led a Eucharistic procession along Rome's Via Merulana to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. The route was lined with thousands of people who prayed and sang, accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Father knelt in adoration in an open vehicle carrying the Eucharist in a monstrance.

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Neocatechumenal Way announces definitive approval of statutes

Rome, Italy, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - The official website of the Neocatechumenal Way in Italy announced this week that Pope Benedict XVI has approved the definitive Statutes of the Way, founded by Spaniard Kiko Arguello in the 1960s.
After an experimental period with the transitional statutes approved in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI “has placed his own signature on the text of the statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, thus officially recognizing the Way as one of the charisms of the Church,” the website announced.
The news was a surprise to Arguello and to co-founder Carmen Hernandez who were in Israel and decided to travel immediately to Rome to organize the official ceremony in which the Statutes approved by the Holy See will be given to them.

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Pope exhorts universities to encourage a passion for the truth

Vatican City, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - On Friday, after receiving participants of a conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy Father stressed that it is the duty of Catholic universities to promote a passion for the Truth in its educators so that family values will be strengthened.

The conference participants, who have been meeting to reflect upon the identity and mission of communications faculties in Catholic universities, were encouraged to have a commitment to the truth because, “the art of communication is by its nature linked to an ethical value, to the virtues that are the foundation of morality.”

Catholic educators should “nourish and reward that passion for truth and goodness that is always strong in the young,” the Pope said.

The best way to nourish young people is by advocating for “truth in information”. This could take the form of a dialogue that involves bringing our peers to reflect upon events, with the aim of being educators of human beings and builders of a better world.”

“It is also necessary to promote justice and solidarity, and at all times to respect the value and dignity of individuals, who have the right not to be injured in matters concerning their private life,"

Also of concern to the Holy Father were those who are economically and socially marginalized.  The latest advances in communications technology should be made available to them, rather than "used to increase the distance that separates those people from the new networks being developed at the service of social life, information and learning."

"It would also be a serious matter," said the Holy Father, "if the globalizing tendency in the world of communications were to weaken or eliminate traditional customs and local cultures, especially those that have managed to strengthen family and social values, love, solidarity and respect for life."

These local efforts received the Pope’s praise since, "despite the high financial cost and the vast human resources required,” religious communities “have opened Catholic universities in developing countries."

Pope Benedict also recalled how, during the course of the congress, attention had turned to the matter of the identity of Catholic universities and schools.  He echoed his address to the Catholic educators in the U.S. saying, "such identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students; it is above all a question of conviction, of truly believing that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man become clear."

"As experts in the theory and practice of communication, and as educators who are training a new generation of communicators, yours is a privileged role, not only in your students' lives, but also in the mission of your local Churches and their pastors to make the Good News of God's love known to everyone,” he concluded.

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7 year-old girl who escaped death twice is WYD ambassador

Sydney, Australia, May 23, 2008 (CNA) - Her name is Sophie Delezio, and at eight years old she has already miraculously survived two serious accidents.  In spite of suffering burns over 85% of her body, losing both her legs, several fingers and her right ear, she never stopped fighting.  This Australian girl has been chosen to be one of World Youth Day 2008’s ambassadors.
At the young age of 3, Sophie was badly injured when a car crashed into her pre-school, trapping her under the burning vehicle. Then in 2006 she was hit by a car as she was crossing the road in her wheelchair.
The story of Sophie is known throughout Australia, as her two accidents led to several national campaigns and the entire country followed her condition for several months.
The Delezio family is convinced that Sophie overcame her grave condition thanks to the intercession of Blessed Mary MacKillop, the Australian nun who is one of the ten patrons of WYD Sydney 2008.
The organizers of WYD have named Sophie ambassador of the event that will take place July 15-20.
“It’s a pleasure for us to be a part of WYD.  It’s a way of thanking God and the Church. We have lived through difficult times.  Our child was in the hands of doctors and we couldn’t do anything else but pray.  We knew there were millions of people praying in Australia for Sophie and for other children,” said Ron, Sophie’s father.
“Faith in Christ and in the Church has given us the strength to keep going and gave Sophie hope in the future” he added.

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Truth is not a threat to tolerance, Spanish archbishop says

Valencia, Fla., May 23, 2008 (CNA) - As the Spanish government escalates its efforts to impose secularism on the country, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia, responded this week by saying, “Truth is not a threat to the tolerance of legitimate diversity” nor “does it lead to intolerance of one’s neighbor.”


In his weekly pastoral letter, the cardinal pointed out that the truth “is not the property of any one human being,” and warned that “setting up moral relativism as an unquestionable dogma is a contradiction.”


“On the contrary, every human being can come to know the truth and unhesitatingly uphold the essential moral categories of what is just and unjust,” he said.


After emphasizing that “each human being has absolute dignity merely by the fact of being one,” the cardinal stated, “The Church proclaims that all men and women have a soul and are made in the image and likeness of God, even when their behavior does not conform to that identity.  There is an innate dignity in the human being that cannot be relativized by anyone.”


“The mission of the Church is committed to the search for truth.  Benedict XVI said as much during his recent visit to the people of North America,” he recalled.  In his letter, the cardinal also underlined that when the Church “makes use of divine wisdom, she projects light about who God is and who man is.”


“Materialism seeks to liberate man from God and from the moral law,” he continued, “but in the end, it enslaves him with the drug of absurd consumerism and the ‘laws of the market,’ which become true dogmas more important than the human being or even than our communities.”


“A society respectful of human dignity should combine truth and tolerance.  Expelling truth from social life leads to intolerance: in human disputes, when the truth is not acknowledged, only brute force imposed by whomever is most powerful wins.  Justice and peace are two sides of the same coin.  When lies and injustice are imposed by any strong-arm or demagogic regime, peace is in jeopardy.  The thirst for justice is a human necessity that cannot be contravened,” the cardinal said.


“Ideologies that deny the truth, that relativize human acts, end up imposing tyranny on their subjects and reveal their pretensions of tolerance to be empty words,” the Spanish cardinal warned.

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McCain repudiates Hagee endorsement after Hitler remark revealed

Union City, Calif., May 23, 2008 (CNA) - Presumptive republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has rejected the months-old endorsement of Texas pastor John Hagee after the publication of a recording showed the televangelist saying God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the Promised Land.

According to the Associated Press, Senator McCain said in a Thursday statement:

"Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.”

Hagee said he was withdrawing the endorsement, which the senator had accepted at a February 27 news conference in San Antonio before the Texas presidential primary.

In a Thursday statement, Hagee said critics are "grossly misrepresenting my position on issues most near and dear to my heart."

"I am tired of these baseless attacks and fear that they have become a distraction in what should be a national debate about important issues," Hagee continued.  He said he would remove himself from any “active role” in the 2008 campaign.

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