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Archive of June 26, 2008

Bishop Fellay rejects Vatican conditions for reconciling split

Winona, Minn., Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Bernard Fellay, the leader of the Society of St. Pius X, has rejected the terms offered by the Vatican for rejoining the Catholic Church. During a homily at one of his society’s seminaries on June 20, the schismatic bishop said that the five conditions for return were a message to “shut up.”

The reaction from Fellay came after Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the head of the commission which oversees the reintroduction of the Latin Mass, sent a letter to the schismatic bishop outlining five conditions for the breakaway society to enter back into communion with Rome.

The Society of St. Pius X claims to be the true Catholic Church and says that the Catholic Church broke from the true faith with the reforms launched by Vatican II. In 1988 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated four traditionalist bishops ignoring a warning from Pope John Paul II. The five prelates were subsequently excommunicated, and among them was Bishop Fellay.

"Rome is telling us, okay, we are ready to lift the excommunications, but you cannot continue this way," Bishop Fellay said in a sermon last Friday at an SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota. "So we have no choice... we are continuing what we've done," the Bishop Fellay said in English. "They just say 'shut up' ... we are not going ... to shut up."

While Fellay sees the recent permission to celebrate the Latin Mass as “very good,” he still sees the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as unacceptable. "The new Mass is the tip of the iceberg of Vatican II and of these modern ideas." Adding the old Mass to the "iceberg of Vatican II" did not change the reforms hidden below, he said.

Among the five terms set out by the Vatican was the condition of avoiding “the premise of a Magisterium superior to that of the Holy Father and not to propose to the fraternity (St. Pius X) in opposition to the Church.” However, this condition cannot be met if the Society refuses to accept the teachings of Vatican II.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi French journalists that, “The recognition of Vatican Council II as the true ecumenical Council of the Church and the recognition of the validity of the Mass according to the liturgy revised after the Council are beyond discussion. The five points quoted by Tornielli are referred to the minimum conditions for a relationship based on respect and availability regarding the Holy Father and a constructive ecclesial spirit.”

Speaking about the conditions that Cardinal Hoyos gave to Bishop Fellay, Lombardi said, “The Pope wants to extend his hand so they can return, but for that to happen, this offer must be received in an attitude and spirit of charity and communion."

The deadline for Bishop Fellay to respond to Cardinal Hoyos is June 30, which is also the 20th anniversary of the bishops' ordinations that created the schism.

The five terms can be found here.

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Vatican representative urges U.N. to take stronger action to help refugees

Geneva, Ill., Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations at Geneva, in a Tuesday speech to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, urged further action to protect refugees. The archbishop said close to 40 million people have presently been uprooted by violence and persecution.

The treatment of refugees displaced by ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Archbishop Tomasi said, has brought attention to the “inadequate action” taken to protect refugees and has revealed a “growing insensitivity to asylum seekers.”

Many countries’ responses to refugees, he said, are often paradoxical. As more people seek protection in other countries, political action presses for greater restrictions on their entry. “In the process, genuine victims from abuses of basic human rights and of specific hostility are confusedly catalogued with other people on the move,” the archbishop observed.

Archbishop Tomasi said international agreements such as the 1951 Convention on Refugees and regional agreements such as the 1969 Convention of the Organization of African Unity and the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, have variously protected people fleeing from external aggression, occupation, foreign domination, serious disturbances in public order or massive violations of human rights. These protections, he said, have been extended to stateless peoples, returnees, and certain peoples who have been internally displaced.

However, the situation of displaced persons is still precarious, as most refugees are found in unstable regions. Only five percent of refugees are accepted into wealthy countries, but some six million people are trapped in such situations, he asserted.

The archbishop endorsed several proposals to help refugees. He said refugees should have the right to food within refugee camps so they are not forced to seek external employment in which they risk arrest and deportation. He said more countries should be made accessible to asylum seekers, fulfilling a responsibility that “should be shared according to the possibilities of each country or region for the sake of the common good.”

However, countries also should have adequate channels for the legal entry of refugees so that asylum seekers are not forced to take the same routes as irregular migrants, risking the “extortions and abuses” within such groups.

Finally, Archbishop Tomasi said detention of refugees should only be considered as a last resort and avoided in the case of minors, who are particularly traumatized by forced detention.

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International Catholic Organizations conference dissolves to join new NGO forum

Paris, France, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - The Conference of the International Catholic Organizations, meeting at an extraordinary General Assembly on June 19, has voted to dissolve itself by a vote approved by more than two thirds of its members. Member organizations will become part of a new Forum for Catholic NGOs.
 
The dissolution of the conference follows a one-year process of multilateral dialogue.

The conference began in 1927, with many member institutions being of French origin. The membership has remained largely static for years, with few new organizations joining. Many of its older organizations have also become dormant.

The conference’s disbanding aims to allow the further progress of the new Catholic NGO Forum, which was initiated by the Vatican Secretariat of State. The new Forum held its first meeting in Rome in November 2007 and includes an additional 100 Catholic-inspired NGOs.

A press release from the Conference of the International Catholic Organizations said the action helps form a more effective network to respond to global challenges within the framework of the United Nations and other intergovernmental authorities.

According to the press release, the move will allow public and private international Catholic associations of the lay faithful, as well as religious congregations, to organize around the same objectives and to engage in “common witness to evangelical values and those conveyed by the social teaching of the Church.”

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Deal Hudson says Catholics don’t know the real Obama

Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Deal W. Hudson, a Catholic political analyst, has criticized Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, for his stands on abortion and marriage. Hudson has also alleged that some Obama supporters are concealing aspects of the senator’s record which would negatively affect Catholics’ opinions of him.

“Barack Obama's stances on all life and marriage issues are antithetical to Catholic social teaching,” Hudson argued, writing in an article published on Tuesday on InsideCatholic.com. “Only with the departure of Clinton from the campaign has Obama picked up steam with Catholic voters,” he said.

Hudson said that, while there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of Republican-voting Catholics, in 2008 the Iraq War “has destabilized the dynamics of the Catholic vote” and has given Obama a “surprising” traction among Catholic voters.

In Hudson’s view, a “key breakthrough” for Obama came when he was endorsed by Prof. Doug Kmiec, a well-known Catholic pro-life professor of law who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Hudson accused Catholic Obama supporters of exploiting Kmiec’s endorsement and creating a perception of moral equivalence between their positions on prudential matters and what he called “non-negotiable life issues.” The present Catholic political debate, Hudson wrote, concerns whether prudential considerations trump “the obligation taught by the Church toward protecting unborn life and families based upon the marriage of a man and a woman.”

Obama backers, Hudson wrote, are lobbying “very effectively” to distract attention from Obama’s support for abortion, which includes support for the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. “They are well-funded and led by people with extensive experience in the Democratic Party and in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” Hudson claimed. He also reported that pro-Obama e-mails are now regularly sent to the executive directors of several state Catholic conferences.

Among the negative developments that Obama has experienced with Catholics is the revelation that his Catholic advisory council has a high number of pro-abortion Catholic members. Hudson recounted how Catholic League president Bill Donohue’s call for the committee to disband made national news and was soon followed by the removal of all references to the committee from the Obama campaign’s website. The presence on the committee of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius could also have become an issue after Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann warned her that her support for legal abortion contradicted Catholic morals and that she should not present herself for Holy Communion.

“The last thing the Obama campaign wants is a replay of 2004 when John Kerry was dogged by story after story of bishops who said they would deny communion to politicians who obstinately support abortion rights,” Hudson wrote.

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Conference to discuss promotion of human life and dignity in the ‘New Evangelization’

Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Pro-life leaders will join physicians, ethicists and experts in family life and social justice issues for a July convocation in Camden, New Jersey to discuss new ways to promote human life and dignity.

A press release for the convocation, which is titled “Life, Justice & Family: Partners in the New Evangelization,” says the meeting will “take up John Paul II’s call for creativity and deeper unity in crafting a ‘new evangelization’ — new in ardor, methods and expression.”

The three-day convocation, which is open to the public, will begin on July 28, 2008, the fortieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae.”

Plenary sessions at the convocation, which is the first national gathering of its kind, will explore human rights, the environment, bioethics, family life, and the relationships between science, technology, and religion.

Speakers include Bishop Joseph A. Galante of the Diocese of Camden, Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Helen Alvaré, J.D., associate professor at George Mason University School of Law, John Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L., executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, and Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, will also speak at the conference.

Prayer will be integrated throughout the convocation, with Masses celebrated by Cardinal Justin Regali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities and Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, among others.

The convocation is co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Diocese of Camden, and the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat.

Registration information is available at www.usccb.org/prolife.

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Pope encourages the Church's efforts to promote marriage in Honduras

Vatican City, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Thursday morning saw Pope Benedict receive bishops from Honduras as they completed their “ad limina” visit. The Pontiff exhorted the prelates to continue their work to promote the truth about marriage in their country.

 

Recalling that the Honduran people "is characterized by a profound religious spirit which finds expression, among other things, in the numerous and deep-rooted practices of popular devotion,” the Pope noted that this character faces challenges. Most notable among the challenges are “the spread of secularism and the proselytism of sects,” Benedict said.

 

These trials should not lead to discouragement, said the Holy Father. Rather, they should “serve as a stimulus for a bold and far- reaching effort of evangelization, founded - rather than on the effectiveness of material means and human plans - on the power of the Word of God, faithfully accepted, humbly experienced and trustingly announced."

 

Calling the formation of priests to announce the Gospel “priceless,” the Pope also emphasized the importance of good formation for seminarians.

 

The Pope then focused in on the topic of defending marriage and the family, saying that the “solidity and stability” of the two foundational institutions “is such a benefit to the Church and society.” “In this respect, it is right to recognize the important step taken by including an explicit recognition of marriage in your country's Constitution, although you well know it is not enough to possess good legislation if then we do not undertake the necessary cultural and catechetical labors that highlight "the truth and beauty of marriage, a perpetual alliance of life and love between a man and a woman,” Benedict XVI said.

 

Charity was also highlighted as an important role for the bishops to cultivate. As “successors of the Apostles," the Holy Father said, bishops must be "the foremost leaders of this service of charity in the particular Churches."

 

"I well know how you are affected by the poverty in which so many of your fellow citizens live, and by the increase in violence, emigration, environmental destruction, corruption and shortcomings in education, alongside other serious problems. As ministers of the Good Shepherd you have - through word and deed - worked intensely to assist the needy,” the Pope noted.

 

I exhort you," he concluded, "to continue through your ministry to show the merciful face of God, strengthening the network of charity in your diocesan and parish communities with particular concern for the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned."

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Benedict XVI calls for openness to Church education in Gabon

Vatican City, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received the Letters of Credence of Firmin Mboutsou, the new ambassador of Gabon to the Holy See. During his address, the Holy Father called on the government of Gabon to become more open to the Church’s efforts to provide education.

"The Church contributes," said the Holy Father, "and wishes to contribute ever more to educating men, women and children, without distinction, respecting people and their cultures, and transmitting to each the spiritual and moral values indispensable for human development.” Also of value, the Pope pointed out, is the Church’s work to teach healthcare workers. Hopefully, Benedict XVI said, Gabon and the Catholic Church can come to an agreement that fully recognizes and supports this charitable service.

The Holy Father then went on to refer to agreements concerning education signed in 2001, expressing his hope that they "become established at the diocesan level.”

“The Church,” he said, "wishes to maintain and develop quality teaching," and this "requires the support of the authorities and of the various services of the State," the Pope told Mr. Mboutsou.

Another area of need the Holy Father pointed to was the "organization of pastoral care in the armed forces" in Gabon. It is important, Pope Benedict said, for the military to be “able to form Christian communities under the guidance of a pastor capable of recognizing and respecting the special status of the military world."

The Holy Father then turned his attention to the issues involving the rest of Africa. He began by calling the "authorities and men and women of good will, especially on the beloved continent of Africa, to commit themselves ever more intensely to building a peaceful, fraternal and united world."

"Without justice", Benedict said, "without fighting all forms of corruption, without respecting the rules of law, true peace is impossible and citizens will clearly find it difficult to put faith in their leaders. Indeed, without respect for the freedom of each individual, it is not possible to speak of peace." In this context, the Pope indicated that the Church is ready to provide collaboration and support for "all those people whose primary concern is to build a society respectful of the most elemental rights of human beings."

Benedict XVI finished his speech by offering a way forward for Africa: "the future is often seen in relation to purely economic questions, which lie at the origin of numerous conflicts. The inhabitants of the country must be the primary beneficiaries of the nation's natural wealth, and do everything possible to protect the planet, leaving future generations a truly inhabitable world capable of feeding all its people."

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Cardinal Urosa warns Venezuelans not to use Mass for political aims

Caracas, Venezuela, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas, and his auxiliary bishops, have warned against using the Mass for political purposes and declared that the Mass at which a blessing was given to the President-elect of Paraguay, former bishop Fernando Lugo, was not authorized by the archdiocese.

In a statement about the incident, the cardinal said that the “Archdiocese of Caracas was not consulted about nor did it authorize a recent celebration of a Mass to publicly pray for and bless the President elect of Paraguay.  If people wanted to meet with him and pray for him, they should have done so in another place and in other surroundings rather than in a Mass broadcast on television to the entire country.”

“In socio-political matters, priests, deacons and religious should always act as courageous messengers of the Gospel, promoters of justice and peace, firm defenders of human rights, and as fathers and brothers of all the faithful, regardless of their political sympathies,” the cardinal stressed.

He said partisan political positions are “incompatible with the ecclesial and pastoral mission of priests and persons of consecrated life.” For this reason, priests and religious must abstain from political activism and from appearing in the media and in public to support specific political agendas.

For this reason, the cardinal continued, the Mass must never be used for political purposes and must instead always be celebrated “in an atmosphere of sincere prayer and religious fervor and great respect, in total communion with the diocesan Church and the universal Church, as an expression of the unity of all Catholics.”

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41,000 objections to Education for Citizenship registered in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - The organization Professionals for Ethics reported this week that at the conclusion of the 2007-08 school year, more than 41,000 objections to Education for Citizenship had been registered in Spain and that the opposition to the controversial course was “without precedence” in the country.

Leonor Tamayo, who is leading the organization’s effort to assist parents in objecting to the course, said, “Parents from all over Spain have stood up, literally, to tell the government they will not allow it to keep moving forward with its totalitarian zeal, that Education for Citizenship is an illegitimate intrusion of the State into an area that is exclusive to parents.”

He said the organization is sure that the number of objections goes well beyond the 41,000 registered because many parents object to the course without communicating with any organization but rather directly to the school.

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Church in Cuba questions government’s promotion of homosexuality on the island

Havana, Cuba, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Havana’s magazine, Palabra Nueva, has published an article questioning the Cuban government’s promotion of homosexuality through norms that allow the changing of one’s identity, sex-change operations and the eventual legalization of homosexual unions.

The latest addition of the magazine features a column by Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana in which he applauds “the efforts to humanize social life” in Cuba by condemning homophobia.  At the same time, however, he questions the campaigns influenced by the “liberal ideologies” of “first world countries” that go “beyond combating the rejection or ill-treatment of homosexual persons” and exalt individual freedom to “unacceptable levels” thus promoting the mentality that “anything goes.”

“I know it is difficult to limit the influence of these centers of power.  Cuba has done so and is doing so in other areas, but in this area many of the faithful of our communities have been surprised and displeased, and they asked the Church to make a statement about the likely legal recognition of homosexual unions, the eventual adoption of children by these couples or the guidance given to parents and even to pre-teens and teens about sexual preference freely chosen by each girl or boy,” the cardinal warned.

In the same edition, Palabra Nueva editor Orlando Marquez wrote in his column about the uproar caused by two recent state-sanctioned events that promote homosexuality: the broadcast of the film Brokeback Mountain on state-run television and the promulgation of a norm by the Ministry of Public Health that authorizes sex-change operations for individuals diagnosed as transsexuals.

Various reports indicate the campaign in support of homosexuality is being led by sexologist Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro and director of the National Center of Sexual Education.

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Andalusia euthanasia law unnecessary, expert warns

Madrid, Spain, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - Joaquin Fernandez Crehuet, professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Malaga in Spain, warned this week that the euthanasia law promoted by the Andalusian government is unnecessary and that the Dutch experience showed that 20% of the patients who were euthanized died without express consent.

The Andalusian government has announced a new law on euthanasia “with these four objectives: the limiting of therapeutic efforts, the rejection of treatment, palliative sedation and disconnection in case of death. This law is unnecessary because doctors already comply with these objectives,” Fernandez said.

“There are scientific protocols that guide our medical practice,” he said.  “What is necessary is that lawmakers guarantee that in every private or public heath care facility an ethics committee is established to study concrete cases of terminally ill patients.”

The university professor criticized supporters of euthanasia for hiding their objectives as well as their economic motives for backing the practice.  They appeal to “sentiments of compassion” in order to gain support, he said, “but reality shows that many sick and elderly people are eliminated with total scorn for human life.”

“Doctors are trained to cure the sick, not to eliminate human lives,” he said.

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Pope’s ancient ornaments and vestments underscore continuity in the liturgy

Rome, Italy, Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Master of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini explained that the distinct ancient liturgical ornaments and vestments being used by Pope Benedict XVI underscore “the continuity of the current liturgical celebration with that which has characterized the life of the Church in the past. The hermeneutic of continuity is always an exact criterion for reading the course of the Church in time.  This also applies to the liturgy.”

In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano, Msgr. Marini said that “just as a Pope cites the Pontiffs that preceded him in his documents in order to indicate the continuity of the Magisterium of the Church, so in the area of liturgy, a Pope also uses liturgical vestments and sacred accessories of the Popes that preceded him to indicate the same continuity in the lex orandi (law of prayer).”

 

“I would like to note that the Pope does not always use ancient liturgical vestments. He often uses modern ones.  The important thing is not that they are ancient or modern but that they are beautiful and dignified, aspects that are important for all liturgical celebrations,” he added.

 

Asked about accusations that Pope Benedict XVI is trying to impose “pre-conciliar models,” Msgr. Marini said, that terms such as “pre-conciliar” or “post-conciliar” are used by some “with the intent of indicating a discontinuity in the Church’s journey, I consider [the terms] to be erroneous and typical of very narrow ideological visions.”

 

“There are ancient things and there are new things that belong to the treasure of the Church of the ages and as such they are taken into consideration,” he continued, adding that “not everything that is new is true, and neither is everything that is ancient.  The truth transcends the old and the new and we must tend towards it without prejudice.”

 

Asked about the gold staff that is in the form of a Greek cross which the Holy Father has been using lately, Msgr. Marini said this choice “does not mean simply a return to the ancient, but rather it is a testimony to development in continuity, a rooting in tradition that allows for moving forward in history in an orderly fashion,” and in addition it is “lightweight and easily manageable,” and as such is a practical choice.

 

Regarding the changes in the pallium which Pope Benedict will give to 41 new archbishops on June 29, Msgr. Marini said they were developments to the design used up until the time of Pope John Paul II and that they will be slightly wider and longer.

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African-American coalition marches on RNC and DNC headquarters to protest Planned Parenthood

Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2008 (CNA) - A coalition of African-American pastors and other pro-lifers marched on the headquarters of both major American political parties in Washington on Thursday to demand that the party committees and party candidates for office refuse the $10 million that Planned Parenthood has said it will spend to influence the 2008 elections.

Decrying what they called its “philosophy of prenatal murder in the black community,” the marchers also demanded that Planned Parenthood be stripped of its $350 million in taxpayer funding it receives each year.

The marchers visited the headquarters of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. They were led by Day Gardner of the National Black Pro-Life Union and Dr. Alveda King, who is a niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pastor Stephen Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship, speaking at a press conference, described the goal of the march:

“We find it a conflict of interest that Planned Parenthood receives federal funding and with that funding it contributes to Republican and Democratic candidates who support their philosophy of prenatal murder in the black community. Congress gives money to Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood in return gives the money to pro-abortion candidates. There’s something rotten in the halls of Congress.”

In April, several African-American pastors, student leaders and activists publicly asked Congress to de-fund Planned Parenthood after several videos were released showing Planned Parenthood employees accepting contributions from actors posing as explicitly racist donors.

Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director at Students for Life of America, said the $350 million that Planned Parenthood receives in taxpayer funding composes more than one third of its $1 billion budget.

“It is completely and utterly wrong for our leaders to step aside while Planned Parenthood continues to take money specified to abort black babies.  This must stop now,” Hawkins said.

After the march’s press conference, many of the pastors met with members of Congress, including Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) and Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA).

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