Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Culture of Life Foundation has begun an expansion of its pro-life educational mission, now targeting the average layman and the common voter in addition to its outreach to academics and policymakers. As part of its new efforts, the foundation has launched a new “e-briefs” program to inform people about life issues in accessible language.
The foundation was founded in 1997 with the blessing of Pope John Paul II and follows his desire to combat the “culture of death” with more involvement from the laity. For many years, its primary purpose was to educate policymakers on life issues.
In recent years the foundation has helped study stem cell research, informing policymakers that embryonic stem cell research is not possible without the destruction of human life. According to Culture of Life Foundation executive director Jennifer Kimball, this work helped influence President George W. Bush’s call for the creation of alternate sources of stem cells and increased awareness about the ethical issues involved in the research.
Kimball, who holds a licentiate from the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome, was appointed executive director of the foundation in November, 2007.
She described the expansion of the Culture of Life Foundation’s mission as focusing on both academic debate and the furthering of understanding of life issues among the laity. Now that policymakers’ understanding of bioethical issues has matured, Kimball explained, the foundation must turn its educational efforts to common voters, where advances are made by “changing minds and hearts.”
The foundation plans on accomplishing this by means of “e-briefs,” which examine bioethical questions in language accessible to laymen. The bi-weekly briefs address what Kimball called “four pillar areas” of concern: life, human sexuality, family, and bioethics.
“We’ve got to take these issues to the public,” Kimball said, according to the Population Research Institute. “It’s not enough to only inform policy-makers, and in order to reach the public we have to use modes such as radio, television, email, public conferences, public events, small networks, and ultimately reach the people in the pews.”
Speaking in an interview with CNA, Kimball commented on the present state of the pro-life movement and listed the pro-life issues she believes will be significant in the near future.
She predicted that the pro-life movement will need to help protect a physician’s right to conscientiously object to performing an abortion, which she said included the right to object to prescribing abortifacient medications.
The general nature of medicine itself is also a looming issue for pro-life advocates, Kimball argued. “Medicine is losing its role of providing therapy. The medical act is now about providing options or enhancements, not care.”
When asked to comment on the state of the pro-life movement in the United States, she said its condition is “one of renewal and one of new initiatives.”
“I think there’s a lot of hope in the pro-life movement now,” she told CNA. "We’re seeing some new organizations pop up and other foundations sponsoring new programs that haven’t been there before.”
She said the contemporary position of the pro-life movement greatly differs from thirty years ago. What she called the “Henry Hyde generation” knew what it meant to have an abortion and could focus on that single issue.
Now, Kimball explained, the pro-life movement “has so much more on our plate. We must articulate what human life is.”
“That’s quite a chore, but we’re tackling it.”
The Culture of Life Foundation website is located at http://www.culture-of-life.org
Manila, Philippines, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - Filipino Catholic groups have rebuked the coalition of dissenting Catholics who published an open letter asking Pope Benedict XVI to change Catholic teaching on birth control in an American and an Italian newspaper.
The Christian Family Movement (CFM) and Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL) have reaffirmed the teachings of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Philippine Daily Inquirer says. Both groups attended a prayer vigil last Friday marking the fortieth anniversary of the encyclical.
They spoke in response to the open letter from 50 lay Catholic groups in Europe and the United States, which attacked Humanae Vitae as a “failure” and claimed Catholic teaching against contraception endangers women’s lives and puts millions at risk of HIV infection.
Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family Life, dismissed the letter as “propaganda.”
“Forty years ago, there were many who opposed Humanae Vitae. Forty years later, it’s still the same,” Father Castro said.
Nonong Contreras, CFC-FFL spokesperson, argued that the open letter’s contention that the prohibition of contraception had contributed to the rise of HIV/AIDS was scientifically unsupported.
“There has been no conclusive empirical data and statistical evidence presented by any group” to support such a statement, Contreras said.
“In Nicaragua,” he noted, “natural family planning efforts in depressed areas were successful at a 98-percent rate.”
Blackwood, N.J., Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - An exchange of letters between Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion shows warming relations between the two Churches as they begin to consider proposals for corporate reunion.
Archbishop Hepworth, writing in the Messenger Journal, has announced that he has responded to a letter “of warmth and encouragement” he received on July 25 from Cardinal Levada. The archbishop said the entire Traditional Anglican Communion should be encouraged by Cardinal Levada’s letter, which was written to assure the archbishop that the Congregation is giving “serious attention” to the “prospect of corporate unity” raised in a 2007 letter from the Anglican primate.
In his letter, which was dated July 5, Cardinal Levada told Archbishop Hepworth that the Congregation has studied the proposals Archbishop Hepworth presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion. The proposals had been presented during the archbishop’s October 9, 2007 visit to the Congregation’s dicastery offices.
“As the summer months approach, I wish to assure you of the serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter,” Cardinal Levada wrote.
The cardinal noted that the situation within the Anglican Communion in general “has become markedly more complex” since the archbishop’s visit. He wrote that the Congregation will inform Archbishop Hepworth as soon as the Congregation is in a position to “respond more definitively.”
Cardinal Levada closed the letter with a blessing, saying “I assure you of my continued prayers and good wishes for you and your brother bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion.”
In a July 25 message released to the Traditional Anglican Communion College of Bishops, Vicars General, and others assisting the Traditional Anglican Communion to achieve unity with the Holy See, Archbishop Hepworth distributed a copy of the cardinal’s letter and described his own reply to it.
“I have responded, expressing my gratitude on behalf of ‘my brother bishops,’ reaffirming our determination to achieve the unity for which Jesus prayed with such intensity at the Last Supper, no matter what the personal cost this might mean in our discipleship,” Archbishop Hepworth wrote in the letter published by the Messenger Journal.
He said Cardinal Levada’s letter should encourage “our entire Communion” and “friends who have been assisting us.”
Archbishop Hepworth said he was “particularly thankful” to Cardinal Levada for his “generous mention” of corporate reunion. The archbishop wrote that corporate reunion was a path “seldom travelled in the past” but one “essential” to fulfilling Christ’s desire for Christian unity.
He said his flock should be spurred to renewed prayer for the Holy Father, for Cardinal Levada and his Congregation’s staff, and for all their own clergy and people “as we move to ever closer communion in Christ with the Holy See.”
According to the Anglican Church in America’s website, the Traditional Anglican Communion claims 400,000 members worldwide.
Canterbury, UK, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - In hopes of preventing a total schism in the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has proposed a new group with the power to punish Anglican churches that break rules on ordaining homosexual clergy and blessing same-sex “marriages.” The group, called the Pastoral Forum, will also have the power to discipline traditionalist churches that cross provincial borders to ordain bishops in other provinces.
The Windsor Continuation Group, which was formed to consider questions of Anglican unity, proposed the Pastoral Forum in a document released on Monday.
The document, which characterized itself as a collection of “preliminary observations,” said there has been a “breakdown of trust” within the Anglican Communion, where many fear wider issues are not being addressed. The group charged that “active fear-mongering, deliberate distortion, and demonizing” have been spread through modern technology.
These and other problems in the communion, the document said, has led to a “diminishing sense of communion” that must be addressed by Anglicans recognizing “the Church in one another” and also recovering a common understanding of both the meaning of a global communion and the role of bishops within it.
Prominent clerics in the Anglican Communion have reacted to the group’s document and the proposed Pastoral Forum.
“We believe this will help us pull back, draw breath and take stock,” said Bishop Clive Handford, chair of the Windsor Continuation Group, according to The Telegraph.
The bishop said the forum could respond quickly to problem areas within the Anglican Communion. It will also “offer guidance” on whether disobedient provinces should be punished with “diminishment of standing,” that is, whether the heads of the disobedient churches should be barred from Primates Meetings or the Lambeth Conference.
Under the forum rules, parishes which have defected from their national churches will have special “holding bay” status until they return.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will be the forum president, will decide which bishop will head the forum and which bishops from across the Anglican Communion will be forum members.
Bishop Sergio Carranza, Assistant Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, responded skeptically to the proposal, saying “If it's something that will punish or discipline then I don't think it will work.
"We don't want to have a tribunal and we don't want to have a group that defines doctrine," he said, according to the Telegraph.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - The body of the Brazilian ballooning priest, Fr. Adelir Antonio de Carli, has been discovered off the coast of Brazil local authorities confirmed.
The remains of the daring priest were found by the Anna Gabriela, a tugboat operated by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, press officials told Bloomberg news earlier this month.
The 41 year-old priest garnered international media attention when he attempted to break a 19-hour flight time record with 1,000 helium balloons to raise money for a spiritual rest stop for truck drivers. Although he said he was prepared for the journey, Fr. de Carli went missing a few hours after his departure from the Brazilian port city of Paranagua on April 20.
Father de Carli, who was an experienced skydiver, prepared for his ill-fated trip by packing a parachute, a thermal suit, a satellite phone, and a GPS device. The priest’s craft also had a buoyant chair.
Police officials in Macae, the city closest to where the body was found, confirmed on Tuesday that DNA tests proved the remains are Fr. de Carli’s.
“We were almost certain that it was the priest due to various elements, such as the clothes and material used in the balloon trip," Macae's chief of police, Daniel Bandeira, said on Monday. "The DNA only confirmed our suspicions."
One member of Fr. de Carli’s family, his brother Moacir de Carli, told Agencia Estado news service on Tuesday that the news of his death came as a relief. The family was extensively involved in searching for the priest persisting in their search with the help of a rented twin engine plane after the Brazilian Air Force suspended its search on April 24.
“Now we can have a respectable burial service,” his brother said.
Rome, Italy, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - During the second day of his vacation at the historic Seminary of Bressanone in northern Italy, Pope Benedict XVI spent his time resting and studying at the famous seminary library.
As he did on his first day of vacation, the Holy Father again preferred to remain indoors at the 400 year-old building—a living museum of sorts—instead of spending time in the gardens outside.
Meanwhile in Bresssanone, where the German-speaking population is celebrating the presence of the Holy Father, a new CD is set to be released which includes conferences from a 1990 congress in Bressanone on Choral and Polyphonic Music. The congress was inaugurated by then Cardinal Raztinger, and the CD is part of the “Brixner Initiative on Music and the Church.” It will be presented to reporters covering the Pope’s vacation on Thursday.
Denver, Colo., Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - Senator John McCain is paying his second visit to Colorado in less than a week and on this trip he is taking time to meet privately with Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.
After arriving in Denver on Tuesday, Sen. McCain spoke at a 6:25 p.m. fundraiser at the Cherry Hills Village home of investor Charlie Gallagher.
At 9:30 on Wednesday morning, John McCain and his wife Cindy met with Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput. The archbishop described the meeting as private and told CNA that no comment would be forthcoming.
Following his meeting with the archbishop, the Republican presidential contender toured the Wagner Equipment Company in Aurora, CO.
Last week McCain was in Colorado to speak at the American GI Forum convention. He also stopped in Aspen and met with the Dalai Lama, who was there for a forum on Tibet.
Asunción, Paraguay, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy See has confirmed through the Apostolic Nunciature in Paraguay the loss of the clerical state of former bishop and President-elect Fernando Lugo.
In a statement released today and signed by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, the decree granting a dispensation from the clerical state for Lugo was made public. “His Excellency the Most Reverend Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez, S.V.D., Bishop emeritus of San Pedro, requested dispensation from the clerical sate on December 18, 2006, in order to run in the elections for President of the Republic of Paraguay,” the decree states.
“The Holy See, after attempting to dissuade Bishop Fernando Lugo from running as a candidate for President of the Republic (cf. CIC can. 285&2), suspended him from the exercise of the priestly ministry,” the decree explains.
“The recent situation that has been created by the election of Bishop Fernando Lugo as President of the Republic of Paraguay,” the decree says, “requires that, for the good of the country and in order to clearly distinguish between the office of President of the Republic and the exercise of the episcopal ministry, the petition he presented requesting the loss of the clerical state be considered again.”
The decree goes on to affirm that, “in fact, his acceptance of the office of President of the Republic of Paraguay is not compatible with the obligations of the episcopal ministry and the clerical state.”
“Therefore, having carefully examined all the circumstances, His Holiness Benedict XVI has granted him the loss of the clerical state, with the consequent loss of the rights inherent therein, dispensing him as well from his religious vows made in the Society of the Divine Word, from clerical celibacy (cf. CIC can. 291) and from the other obligations that the clerical state entails (cf. CIC can. 292)."
Lastly, the decree underscores, “The Supreme Pontiff exhorts Mr. Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez to be faithful to the Catholic faith in which he was baptized and to lead a life consistent with the Gospel.”
The Nunciature in Paraguay added that the Church’s action in the case of Lugo “is due exclusively to canonical and pastoral reasons,” and that “the Church, without abdicating her prophetic role, will continue in her relations with civil authorities as spelled out in the Constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes’ of Vatican II, according to which ‘the political community and the Church are independent and autonomous of each other in their own fields. Nevertheless, both, although under different titles, are at the service of the personal and social vocation of all people’.”
Vatican City, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI, who is on vacation in the city of Bressanone in northern Italy, spiritually joined in the traditional recitation of the Rosary that takes place in the Vatican Gardens each year on the feast of St. Martha.
In a telegram sent in his name by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, the Pope encouraged those present at the annual event “to serve Jesus in our brothers and sisters, with a generous commitment.”
The Pope’s Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, presided at the Rosary and candlelight procession, which was held in the Vatican Gardens before statues of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Guadalupe, Lourdes and Our Lady of Mercy.
The cloistered nuns of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery—located on the Vatican grounds—joined in the Rosary via radio, which allowed them to lead the last decade of the Rosary from inside the monastery.
Vatican City, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - In hopes of combating “ignorance” about the Catholic Church’s response to AIDS, the Catholic charity Caritas Internationalis will take part in the 27th International AIDS Conference to be held this August in Mexico City. At the conference the charity will join 25,000 participants who include internationally-known experts and decision makers.
Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, the Special Advisor on HIV for Caritas Internationalis, will participate in the conference. Speaking in a press release, Monsignor Vitillo described the conference as an opportunity to share as much new knowledge and experience as possible.
He also said one challenge facing Caritas Internationalis is the “ignorance” of the Catholic Church’s response to AIDS.
"We need to learn better how to let our light shine and not hide it under a bushel basket," Monsignor Vitillo advised.
Recently, dissenting Catholics published an open letter in a major U.S. newspaper claiming that Catholic teaching on contraception is hindering AIDS prevention efforts.
Monsignor Vitillo noted that Caritas Internationalis has offered leadership and education about HIV and AIDS for the past twenty years. Caritas has opposed AIDS-related stigma and discrimination and promoted access to treatment for all disease victims, in cooperation with the United Nations and other organizations, he said.
He explained that securing funding for Catholic AIDS relief work is a major challenge because only a small amount of pledged money goes to religious organizations, even though they provide a large proportion of care for people with HIV and AIDS.
The monsignor said Caritas Internationalis has worked to obtain more equitable funding.
"Because of our motivation and roots in Catholic teaching," he said, "Caritas is not just professionally competent, but we are interested in the whole person and we try to help each person realize their God-given dignity. That requires attention to physical, emotional, social and pastoral needs."
The Mexico City conference will last from August 3-8. On August 5, Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Mexico, the Catholic HIV/AIDS Network and the Jesuit community in Mexico will host Catholic organizations’ delegates in an evening of prayer and discussion.
Canterbury, UK, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - Catholic Cardinal Walter Kasper on Wednesday afternoon touched on two of the hot button issues rankling the Anglican Communion of late–women’s ordination and sexuality. Due to recent developments, he stated, “dialogue has taken a step backwards” between the two Churches.
“Our dialogue has been made dynamic by the desire to remain faithful to the will expressed by Christ that his disciples should all be one” so that “the world may believe,” Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, said on Wednesday afternoon.
The cardinal noted that these efforts at dialogue have been “based on the Gospel and on our ancient common traditions” and motivated by “fidelity to Christ.”
And yet, “now it seems that full and visible communion as the goal of our dialogue has taken a step backwards,” Cardinal Kasper lamented.
According to the Catholic prelate, two questions are creating tension between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church: “the ordination of women and human sexuality.” The teaching of the Catholic Church on human sexuality and in particular on homosexuality, said Kasper, is “firmly based on the Old and New Testament,” and what is “at stake is fidelity to Holy Scripture and to the apostolic tradition.”
Cardinal Kasper closed his speech by expressing the concern of the Catholic Church over the divisions currently appearing in the Anglican Communion.
“Our acute consciousness of the greatness and considerable depth of the Christian culture of your tradition increases our concern for you in relation to your current problems and crises, but it also gives us confidence in the fact that, with God’s help, you will find a way out of these difficulties and that in a new way we shall be strengthened in our common pilgrimage towards the unity that Jesus Christ wishes for us and for which he prays.”
Canterbury, UK, Jul 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Anglican Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Holy See, the Very Reverend David Richardson, has commented on Catholic pleas for unity within the Anglican Communion, saying such actions are a positive reminder of God’s desire for the unity of the church.
Pope Benedict XVI, during his visit to Australia for World Youth Day, urged the Anglican Church to avoid schism, while Cardinal Ivan Dias, head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, warned in a speech to the Lambeth Conference that disunity poses dangers to evangelism.
Rev. Richardson, who also directs the Anglican Center in Rome, said such comments show the Catholic Church has “a lot of investment” in the unity of the Anglican Church. “The last thing they want to see is a church structurally split,” he explained, speaking in an interview posted on the Lambeth Conference website.
From the point of view of the Catholic Church, he thought, schism is “a really much more serious issue than the discipline or moral theological issues with which we’re wrestling.”
Catholic-Anglican dialogue has been taking place for decades and has produced several key documents from both the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.
These documents, Rev. Richardson said, were exciting because of the questions they pose.
“What is the faith? Is the apostolic faith something that was parceled up and completed at Chalcedon or is it something that is still emerging? That is a theological question that is part of the wrestle,” he commented. “That’s an exciting thing that the two parties are committed to continuing.”
In Rev. Richardson’s view, Catholic concerns about controversial issues within the Anglican Communion, such as women bishops or homosexuality, are part of the normal difficulties of ecumenical dialogue.
“Ecumenical processes never run smoothly, and life moves on,” he said. “While you’re writing a report, at the end of it you find that something different has taken place. It may be that women have been ordained or a Pope has died, or an Archbishop of Canterbury has resigned.”
“We’re an evolving institution,” he said.