Orissa, India, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The slaughter and sale of a cow reportedly triggered a new series of attacks against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa in which Hindu militants from the group Vishwa Hindu Parishad destroyed a Jesuit residence, a church and a Protestant orphanage. While no one was reported killed in the recent attacks, violence has killed four Catholics and has destroyed 730 houses and 95 churches in 2008 alone.
Local church sources told Fides news agency that intimidation and discrimination continues as local authorities and police are unable to end the anti-Christian violence.
According to UCA News, some Hindus in Malikpada slaughtered a cow and sold the beef to some Christians and other villagers. When the Christians were returning to their house they were stopped by a Hindu religious leader, Bula Chaudri, and his supporters. Chaudri, who is also known as Madhaba Baba, berated the Christians for killing a cow. He threatened to send them to jail, as he had a photo on his cell phone of the Christians carrying beef.
The villagers begged that Chaudri delete the photo, but then grabbed the phone when he refused.
This argument then escalated to the attack on the Jesuit residence, the church and the Protestant orphanage. Four hundred houses were also set on fire by the Hindu extremists.
According to Fides, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath SVD, of the Orissan capital Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, expressed deep concern in response to the attacks. He contacted local authorities, asking for immediate intervention to prevent further violence and to reestablish order.
In December and January the Indian bishops established an ad hoc committee to investigate anti-Christian violence. However, they find that Christians are still targeted by radical groups and suffer threats, intimidation, discrimination and abuse.
Many Christians have left their homes out of fear, preferring to live in refugee camps despite the poor living conditions there.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Mumbai, has decried the “organized attacks to destabilize the Church’s presence in India.” Many bishops and other religious leaders have said Christians are considered “second class citizens” and are deprived of the basic rights and liberties guaranteed to them in India’s Constitution.
Newcastle, Maine, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - St. Patrick Catholic Church in Newcastle, Maine will celebrate its bicentennial this weekend. The church, whose building was completed in 1808, is the oldest continuing parish in the northeastern United States.
The celebrations will begin at noon on Saturday with the ringing of the church bell, one of the last church bells to be cast by the American hero Paul Revere, the Bangor Daily News says.
Parishioners will conduct tours of the church cemetery and portray in costume some of the historical personages buried there.
Bishop of Portland Richard J. Malone will celebrate Mass on Saturday afternoon in the modern $2 million church finished in 2004. On Sunday a Latin Mass will be celebrated in the original church building, a small brick church set on a hill overlooking the Damariscotta River.
Carrie Watson, one of the event planners, said the program was designed to appeal to history-lovers as well as Catholics interested in Maine’s religious heritage.
“From a historical viewpoint, anyone interested in any kind of history would find the story of the oldest Catholic Church in the state fascinating," she said, according to the Bangor Daily News. "And in terms the architecture and structure of building, I would think people interested in those things would be interested in hearing details about its construction to learn how it’s lasted so long."
Rev. John Lefevre de Cheverus celebrated the first Mass in the area in 1798 while returning to Boston from missions to the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians. In the same year, a small wooden chapel called St. Mary of the Mills was built at Damariscotta Mills, though that building has not survived.
The existing church building was designed by architect Nicholas Codd, who was reputed to have been shanghaied from Ireland to design the church and homes for local prominent figures.
The church altar, built in the form of a tomb, is older than the church building itself. It is the original altar at which Father Cheverus offered Mass.
Bucharest, Romania, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has decided to “forgive” two Orthodox bishops for their participation in religious rites with Eastern Catholics. However, it warned that no Orthodox cleric may celebrate sacraments or blessings with ministers of other religions on pain of excommunication.
Nicolae Corneanu, the Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Banat, had provoked controversy after receiving Holy Communion during a Greek Catholic Mass in Timisoara on May 25. The synod’s forgiveness has reportedly settled the controversy, according to the SIR News Agency.
“The Holy Eucharist is not a means and a stage towards the unity of the Christian Church, but the deepest manifestation of the unity of the Church, its highlight,” stated Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church in a speech to the synod.
Patriarch Daniel reportedly intended to reassert the fundamental principle of Orthodox ecclesiology and ecumenism. He said that such gestures of “so-called inter-communion” in fact “reduce the dogmatic differences between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church and undermine the unity of faith as the foundation of the reconstruction of the communion between the two Churches.”
The Patriarch reiterated that it is forbidden for Orthodox believers to receive the Eucharist in a different Church.
He also said the decision does not intend to treat other Christians “with arrogance or contempt” or to interrupt theological dialogue.
“Through a sincere, deep theological dialogue, the dogmas that separate the Catholic Church from the Orthodox Church can be redefined,” he concluded.
Father Francisc Dobos, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Bucharest, responded to the decision, saying in a press release, “We believe it is right for every Church to solve its own problems according to its own principles and regulations. We are convinced that the dialogue between the two Churches will move on, towards a communion from the same chalice.”
The Romanian synod also “forgave” Bishop Sofronie of Oradea, another Orthodox prelate, who had celebrated the blessing of holy water with the Greek Catholic Bishop of Oradea, Virgil Bercea, on “Twelfth Night,” the evening of Epiphany.
“The Holy Synod disapproved of the non-canonical gestures made by the two leaders and accepted their change of mind and repentance as a first sign of their correction,” read a press release from the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate.
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - Shepherd One, Pope Benedict XVI’s airplane will take off from Rome on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. bearing the Holy Father on his way to Australia for World Youth Day.
The Pope’s ninth trip outside of Italy will begin with a three day vacation before he appears at World Youth Day, the largest gathering of youth Australia has ever seen.
The flight from Rome will last 15 hours and 45 minutes and will arrive at Richmond airbase near Sydney at 3 p.m. local time on Sunday, July 13.
Descending from the aircraft, the Pope will be greeted on the tarmac by Kevin Rudd, prime minister of Australia, Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, and other civil and religious authorities. He will then travel by car to the Kenthurst Study Centre, a private house for retreats and formation belonging to the Prelature of Opus Dei, where he will spend the time privately until the evening of Wednesday, July 16.
The Pope's visit to Australia will officially begin Thursday morning with a welcome ceremony in the presence of the authorities at Government House in Sydney, where he will deliver his first discourse. Following the ceremony he will travel to the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel for a moment of prayer, before moving on to Admiralty House for a meeting with the Australian prime minister.
Early on Thursday afternoon the Pope will go to Rose Bay Quay in Sydney where he will be greeted with a display of traditional Aboriginal dances and songs. He will then board the vessel "Sydney 2000" and joined by 12 other boats, Benedict XVI will cross the bay to the city's Bangaroo East Darling Harbour. The papal “boat-a-cade” will be welcomed by tens of thousands of young people.
Events scheduled for Friday, July 18 include an ecumenical meeting and an encounter with representatives of other religions in St. Mary's Cathedral of Sydney.
The most momentous events of the trip will be the Saturday evening prayer vigil and the Mass on Sunday which the Pope will preside over at the Randwick Racecourse. Organizers estimate that 225,000 people will attend the 23rd World Youth Day and are expecting around 500,000 for the closing Mass.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The L'Osservatore Romano reported this week that young people in Sydney are eagerly anticipating the opening of World Youth Day and the arrival next week of Pope Benedict XVI.
At the Mount Saint Mary campus of the Catholic University of Strathfield, the Catholic Maronite Forum 2008 was inaugurated on Thursday, with Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir and youth delegates from the dioceses of Lebanon in attendance. The Forum will give the young people a chance to reflect on their cultural identity as Maronites.
Catholics of the Maronite Rite are part of the Eastern branch of Catholicism. They have always remained in communion with the Pope and draw their spiritual tradition from the example of St. Maron.
The Maronite Forum will come to a close on Sunday, July 13, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Sfeir at the Parramatta Stadium.
In addition, there are three activities planned for Saturday, July 12: the meeting of Franciscan youth movements at St. Francis Primary School in Paddington; a meeting to promote Ignatian spirituality at St. Ignatius College; and a meeting of college-aged young people from Europe and Australia to discuss the theme, “Witnessing to the Gospel at the University,” which will take place at St. John College.
The Campus Ministry Office of the Vicariate of Rome has also been promoting activities in collaboration with Catholic chaplains of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the association of Catholic students of Australia.
Denver, Colo., Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency is pleased to announce a new column named “Indispensable Economics,” written by Dr. William Luckey. Each week, Dr. Luckey will explain the world of economics focusing on issues affecting Catholics in society today.
Formerly the chairman of the Political Science and Economics Department at Chrsistendom College, Dr. Luckey also holds advanced degrees in Business, Economics, Political Philosophy and Systematic Theology. He was married in 1971 and became a Lay Dominican in 1974.
He described his column to CNA saying:
“Ever since I started the serious study of economics so many years ago, I have been amazed at both the ignorance of almost everybody regarding economics, and, yet the arrogance of so many who discuss it as if they had studied the subject.” Dr. Luckey explains that this doesn’t just apply to ordinary citizens, “but to those in the media, to those in other academic fields who pontificate on economic subjects as if specialized knowledge in their fields automatically gives them in-depth knowledge in a field they have not seriously studied, and those in the clergy, who continually have opinions on how to solve economic problems, as if only good intentions are needed to solve a problem.”
For example, “if NASA asked a brain surgeon, a media pundit or a steelworker for plans on how to build a rocket that would go to Pluto, everyone sees the silliness of it. Would you travel in such a rocket? So, why would you adopt an economic policy without knowing the economics behind the possible solutions?”
“Knowing economics is especially important for Catholics regardless of their calling. For clergy, pronouncements on subjects, while emphasizing the moral aspects, still need to take into account how the world actually works. Many clerics act as if, say, unemployment occurs because cheapskate companies just heartlessly refuse to give people jobs. People who lose jobs not only tend to share that sentiment, but their anger is fueled by the pronouncements of the clerics. For the citizen, we all need to make decisions regarding public policy questions, or what actions will actually help the poor, or really make healthcare more widespread. More often than most people want to admit, the solutions proposed are much more harmful than beneficial because those who propose them either are ignorant of the economics of the question, or choose to ignore it.”
“That’s where I come in. In reading my articles you will get an understanding as to what economics as a science is and its application to specific questions which have moral and theological aspects. The question must be asked, ‘How can we help the common good in this or that situation?’ Doing so is our Christian duty. We have to know what we are doing before we do it.”
Dr. Luckey’s first column entitled, “Catholics, Calumny and Oil Prices,” can be found on the left-hand side of CNA’s homepage or by clicking on the following link: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/columns.php?sub_id=14
Denver, Colo., Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - John McCain is preparing to ramp up his efforts to reach out to Catholic voters with a “very, very aggressive” campaign, spearheaded by his newly created Catholic Outreach Coalition.
Frank Donatelli, the Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Committee, spoke to reporters and Catholic media on a conference call this morning about the efforts that the McCain campaign is planning to reach Catholic voters.
Donatelli described the Catholic Outreach Coalition, chaired by Sen. Sam Brownback and Frank Keating, as “first-rate” and said that it will be “very well-funded.”
Calling McCain’s Catholic campaign "very, very aggressive," Donatelli said it will involve literature, sending speakers to parishes and Catholic gatherings, a direct mail program and statements by Sen. McCain on issues of concern to Catholics.
The coalition plans to explain to Catholic voters how McCain is a stalwart opponent of abortion, has a strong appreciation for the social conscience of the world and that he is in favor of an immigration policy that defends the nation’s borders but also is humane in its treatment of illegal immigrants.
Donatelli also mentioned to CNA that the McCain campaign is also actively reaching out to Latinos, a group that historically votes for Democrats and is largely Catholic. Besides the cultural issues that presidential contender is emphasizing with non-Latino Catholics, McCain sees addressing the immigration issue in a humane manner as key to attracting the Hispanic vote.
As has been noted in the past, one issue that John McCain differs with Catholic teaching on is his position on embryonic stem cell research. CNA recently discovered a description on the McCain campaign’s website that says:
“As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.”
When Frank Donatelli was asked if Sen. McCain’s position had changed, he said he wasn’t quite familiar with the passage, but that it is “a change to the extent that we’ve had scientific breakthroughs there. So we may be able to avoid this terrible choice if this research continues to bear fruit.”
Ann Arbor, Mich., Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - Mark Linton, director of Catholic Outreach for the Obama Campaign, refused to appear on a Catholic radio show to explain Obama’s views regarding abortion and address his accusations of supporting infanticide.
The Detroit-based radio show, hosted by Al Kresta, founder of Ave Maria Communications and best-selling Catholic author, wanted to invite both Mark Linton and Deal Hudson, the director of InsideCatholic.com, onto his radio show. Nick Thomm, the producer for Kresta’s show, explained to CNA, “[Linton] is the National Catholic outreach guy and he disagrees with Deal Hudson over the facts surrounding Obama’s record on abortion. So we figured we’d have them both on the show to hash it out.”
Hudson has written several articles questioning Obama’s stance on abortion and infanticide due to his refusal to pass the Born Alive Infant Protect Act in the Illinois Senate. Linton responded on July 4 by sending out an email criticizing Hudson and attempting to clarify Obama’s abortion position.
After successfully contacting Hudson, Thomm was unable to find a contact number for Linton on the party’s website. When he contacted Obama’s Senate office, he told that they couldn’t give out Linton’s phone number and that he would have to send Linton an email.
After sending Linton an email on Monday afternoon and another Tuesday morning, Thomm called Senator Obama’s office once again to try and reach Linton in time for Kresta’s 4 p.m. (ET) radio show.
Thomm explained that when he called Obama’s senate office he told the Obama staffer, “we have no choice but to think that he’s trying dodge us. He’s supposed to be a National Catholic Outreach coordinator and we’re a Catholic radio show, so who’s he doing outreach to?”
“We never heard back from him and so we just went ahead and did the show without him,” said Thomm.
CNA also tried to contact Linton to discuss Obama’s abortion record and the missed radio debate, but calls and emails were not returned.
Quito, Ecuador, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Dutch anti-life foundation HIVOS, together with the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, is organizing a “sex camp” in Ecuador for young people who want to express their “sexual rights.”
HIVOS is promoting what it calls the “fight against fundamentalism” in Ecuador, whose main “victims” are “women, homosexuals, lesbians and persons with HIV/AIDS.”
The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights is a front organization without any members created in 1999 during a meeting in Mexico City. It was set up by Catholics for a Free Choice and is financed in part by Playboy Magazine.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Argentinean pro-life NGO “Pro-Vida,” Dr. Roberto Castellano, issued a statement this week strongly rejecting a recent court ruling against a doctor who revealed that a woman he was treating at the Santojanni Hospital had undergone an illegal abortion.
The court ruled that the doctor had learned of the abortion while treating the patient and that therefore knowledge of the act was covered by “professional confidentiality,” which he was not free to violate.
According to Dr. Castellano, the mentality behind the court’s ruling “greatly ignores the right of the victim, in this case, the right to life of the aborted child. While it is true that the judges have acted after the events occurred, it is no less true that the social message being sent is that undergoing an abortion could be considered ‘a pregnant woman’s choice’ that is totally subordinate to her wishes.”
Professional confidentiality, he explained, “does not include covering up crimes,” and he warned that when judges do not respect the country’s law, “a reign of legal and moral insecurity takes hold. At a time when there is so much talk about human rights and the role of the courts in protecting them, this ruling undermines it and lets the death of an absolutely innocent and defenseless baby go unpunished.”
La Paz, Bolivia, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, called on Bolivians this week to recover the meaning of the family, “made up of extraordinary diversity,” but called to be “a sign of respectful unity” in the manner in which the Lord wants for his Church “and which we want to build up.”
Upon returning from the International Eucharistic Congress held in Quebec, the cardinal commented on the celebration of the Pauline Year and noted that St. Paul dedicated himself to the service of the Lord.
He served Christ in such a way, the cardinal noted, that at the end of his days he was able to say, “It is not I but Christ who lives in me.” “That is simplicity and humility,” Cardinal Terrazas said.
He also referred to Blessed Nazaria Ignacia of Bolivia, whom he called “a simple woman who understood how to reach the simple and the humble; a woman who understood the reality of Bolivia in an extraordinarily evangelical way.”
Valencia, Fla., Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco, said this week that human dignity “is not subordinate to the decisions of particular States or to local customs or to any ideological proposal,” but rather is proper to the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.
In his weekly letter, the cardinal stressed that at a time when “rights for animals a recognized,” but “human beings in their embryonic and prenatal phase are left without rights,” human dignity needs to be upheld.
“We were all embryos, we all developed under the hearts of our mothers, we all received the necessary care to come to be what we are,” the cardinal said.
He acknowledged the need to protect nature and animals, “but that does not make them members of the human family.” “The equality of inalienable rights is proper to the human being,” he explained, and that is “the logic behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of our Constitution.”
“Christian revelation and its application to the rights of persons protects those who are weakest,” the cardinal continued, warning that “ignoring the human rights of the weak can never be called progress,” but rather means “going backwards towards the darkest eras of human history in which the strongest imposed their violence on the weakest.”
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was intended to put an end to those dark eras. We Catholics must be sensitive to putting into practice the culture of life and offering life and hope-giving solutions to all people, especially to those who are in difficult situations,” the cardinal stated.
Morris, MN, Jul 11, 2008 (CNA) - A Minnesota professor and science blogger has said he will personally desecrate the Eucharist and publish photos of the desecration on the internet if any of his readers acquire a consecrated Host and mail it to him. “I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare,” he has written.
Paul Zachary Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota at Morris, made the threat while commenting on a University of Central Florida incident in which a student senator stole and held hostage a consecrated Host from a June 29 Mass.
In the Florida incident, student senator Webster Cook presented himself at Sunday Mass to receive the Eucharist. According to wftv.com, Cook said he intended to take the consecrated Host back to his seat to show a curious friend. After being stopped on his return to his seat, he put the Host in his mouth but removed it upon sitting down.
He said a church leader grabbed his hands and tried to retrieve the Eucharist, after which he left with the Host. Cook filed an official abuse complaint with the UCF student court, while Catholic students filed other complaints alleging Cook engaged in disruptive conduct.
Cook stored the Eucharist in a Ziploc bag for a week and then returned it last Sunday.
"I want to thank the individuals who explained the emotional and spiritual pain my possession of the Eucharist caused them to experience," Cook wrote in a letter to the church, according to wftv.com. "They have demonstrated that the use [of] reason is more effective than the use of force."
He said some people had threatened to break into his room to retrieve the Eucharist. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Orlando said the diocese does not condone the threats but is happy Cook returned the Host.
Professor Myers criticized the incident in a derisive July 8 post on his science blog Pharyngula, hosted at scienceblogs.com. He also solicited his readers to acquire consecrated Hosts.
“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers wrote. “…if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage… but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, on Thursday said that Myers’ blog could be accessed through a link on the University of Minnesota Morris web site. He noted that Myers’ remarks could be in violation of the university’s code of conduct, which requires faculty to be “respectful, fair and civil” when dealing with others.
Donohue also stated the Catholic League was contacting the Minnesota legislature because the university is a state institution.
“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ,” he said. “We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”
While a July 6 Google cache of the University of Minnesota Morris biology faculty listings showed a link to Myers’ Pharyngula blog, the link was removed as of Friday morning. According to Baylor professor Francis Beckwith, writing on the blog “What’s Wrong with the World,” the internet archive at web.archive.org shows that the University of Minnesota Morris biology faculty page had linked to Pharyngula since at least November 9, 2006.