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Archive of August 4, 2008

Former NFL pro Danny Abramowicz to host new EWTN television show

Irondale, Ala., Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - Former NFL all-pro wide receiver and coach Danny Abramowicz has created a television show which uses a sports show format to encourage men to get themselves into spiritual shape.

The show, called “Crossing the Goal,” was created in conjunction with the EWTN Global Catholic Network.  Segments include “The Kickoff,” where the problem of the day is presented; “The Game Plan,” where two hosts examine the facts relevant to the topic; “The Red Zone,” where the hosts talk about how they’ve dealt with the problem in their own life; and “The End Zone,” where each host gives the audience something to think about for the week in hopes of providing real solutions to the spiritual challenges men face.

“We talk to men about the things that are happening in their lives right now and we challenge them to do something about it," said Abramowicz. "Guys respond to a challenge. The Lord will help them, but they have to admit that something is not right in their life."

Abramowicz will be joined on “Crossing the Goal” by co-hosts Peter Herbeck, who is vice-president of Renewal Ministries, the founder of Fellowship of Catholic University Students Curtis Martin and professional broadcaster Brian Patrick.

The former NFL pro, who played for the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, has admitted to being a former “party boy” whose life revolved around booze and his ego. He said he has high hopes for the show.

"The economy is tough," Abramowicz said. "Men don't think of the Lord when things are rockin' and rollin'. When things start turning bad, that's when we need to be available to the men."

“Crossing the Goal” is scheduled to air on Sundays at 6:30 pm Eastern Time beginning August 31 and will re-air on Friday nights and Monday mornings.

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Benedict XVI hopes for Olympics that 'respect dignity'

Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - After delivering his traditional Angelus address to thousands of the faithful on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI told the crowd that he hopes the Beijing Olympics will provide a good example of coexistence, while respecting human dignity.

Looking ahead to August 8, the Holy Father noted that “Beijing will open the Games of XXIX Olympiad.” Although he is on vacation until August 11, the Pope said that he will be following “this great sporting encounter with profound interest.”

Addressing himself to the China, the organizers and participants, and above all the athletes, Pope Benedict sent his cordial greetings, “with the hope that everyone can give their best in a genuine Olympic spirit.”

While the preparations for the Olympics have been marred by the Chinese government’s restrictions on the freedom of the press and Tibetan freedom protests, the Pope diplomatically chose to express his hope that the Olympic Games “provides the international community a good example of coexistence between people of many different origins, while respecting common dignity.  May once again sport be a pledge of brotherhood and peace among peoples!”

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Political prisoners suffer inhumane conditions in Cuban prisons

Havana, Cuba, Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, has again denounced the inhuman conditions in which political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are held in Cuba.

In a brief statement, Paya described the suffering of the prison population in Cuba, including a lack of medical care, poor nutrition, crowded conditions, censorship, invasive searches, and mistreatment by prison guards.

He said the lack of medical attention leaves prisoners vulnerable to illness and disease.  Likewise, Paya said the lack of adequate nutrition results in many prisoners contracting “digestive problems and severe stomach infections.”

Other mistreatment suffered by both common and political prisoners includes overcrowding in cells and the lack of potable water. “The plumbing is in very bad shape, and blockage in the lines as well as water leaks in the walls are commonplace, especially in prison cells that are located on the lower floors of the buildings,” Paya said.

He also noted the censorship to which the prisoners are subjected, pointing out that their freedom of expression is suppressed as well as their access to literature.

“On the night before any kind of visit or inspection,” Paya said, the prisoners are rounded up and given “the rules that will be used in the prison during the visit.” “Any prisoner who complains during the inspection could be removed from his cell, which causes emotional instability among the prisoners,” he added.

In addition to all of this, prisoners are also subject to invasive searches and inspections of letters and books in an attempt to intimidate them, as well as mistreatment on the part of prison officials, who receive poor training and instruction.  “There is no consideration of their moral integrity, their sense of humanity and their intellectual or professional level,” Paya said.

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Spanish girl killed resisting sexual assault could be raised to the altars

Valladolid, Spain, Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Burgos has spent the last year gathering information to promote the cause of beatification of Marta Obregon, a Spanish girl killed during a sexual assault in 1992.

That year on the night of January 21, the feast of St. Agnes, Marta was returning home from the Arlanza night club. Although her home was less than a quarter of mile from the club, she never arrived. She was kidnapped by Pedro Luis Gallego, who had been accused of various rapes and homicides.

According to the Spanish daily El Mundo, Gallego took her in his car a few miles outside Burgos where he tried to rape her in a field.  Marta did everything she could to resist the assault. The so-called “elevator rapist” beat her severely and stabbed her fourteen times in the chest. Her naked body was found near a highway.

Marta Obregón Rodríguez was born on March 1, 1969 in La Coruna in northern Spain.  She was the second of four attractive and energetic sisters.  Her mother is a supernumerary in the Opus Dei, but Marta decided to join the Neocatechumenal Way after leaving behind a rebellious adolescence.  She believed she found the love of her life in her boyfriend Francisco Javier Hernando.

“Marta attracted you like a magnet.  Whatever place she went to she immediately made friends. She triumphed wherever she went. Everyone wanted to be with her, talk to her and know about her,” Hernando recalled.

Marta studied journalism at the Compultense University of Madrid, where she lived at a house run by the Augustinian Missionaries. In 1990 she went to Taize in France, where every summer thousands of young people meet for prayer and fellowship.  While there she wrote to a friend: “God is the most important thing in my life, He is my love. Life is awesome, but it is shorter than we think.”

In December of 2006 her case was presented before the Presbyteral Council of Burgos, presided over by Archbishop Francisco Gil Hellin.

Father Saturnino Lopez Santidrian said he was studying Marta’s case and that there could be reason to open her cause of beatification. He was named postulator for the diocesan phase of the process.

Archbishop Gil Hellin sent her cause to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and in April of last year the Vatican granted the “Nihil Obstat,” declaring that there is no obstacle to beginning her process.

In July of 2007, the archbishop of Burgos published a decree encouraging all priests, religious and faithful of the archdiocese to provide any information they have that could be useful in Marta’s cause of beatification.

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Reunion of 'tenth-born children' sets Guiness Book world record in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - Forty one people who are the “tenth-born” child in their family met in Buenos Aires in July to honor St. Gianna Beretta Molla, establishing a Catholic “Guinness” world record.

Promoted by the Argentinean Catholic daily, “Cristo Hoy,” which has one of the largest circulations in Latin America, the event attracted the attention of the press because of its message of love for the family and life conveyed by those who attended the gathering.

“Cristo Hoy” interviewed Mariano and Luz Carreras, the organizers of the meeting, who said they “spontaneously” came up with the idea of bringing together the tenth-born children to share their common experiences.

They considered the reunion to be “an act of thanksgiving to God the Father, first of all, and second, to our own parents, because if they had not been motivated to have large families, none of these tenth-born children would be here,” they told “Cristo Hoy.”

The couple said being part of a large family encourages children to learn how to “share, be patient, tolerate frustration and postpone gratification, which psychologists say are much-needed values in today’s society, to value each human life as a precious gift of God the Father, to learn that one can get by with a little, because what is important and necessary is not what the world tells you is essential but rather the presence of those at your side,” they said.

They went on to note that many people today are afraid they will not be to provide for all of the material needs of children. “The world rejects large families and sometimes they are attacked as if they were crazy. But those who decide to have a large family have eyes fixed on the Most High One, believing that the existence of a new member of the family and giving the other children a brother or a sister is more valuable than the material things they could otherwise have.”

The Carreras acknowledge that it is difficult to give enough personal attention to each child, but that “each family follows its own method.  Nonetheless, family time and time for the family should be a priority,” they said.

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Knights of Columbus launch ‘Fathers for Good’ initiative to strengthen families

Quebec City, Canada, Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus is to launch its “Fathers for Good” initiative on Tuesday during the opening session of the Catholic fraternal charity’s annual convention in Quebec City. The initiative is aimed at helping men strengthening their marriages and families in a culture that it says “often does not value fatherhood.”

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson will announce the fatherhood initiative during the delivery of his annual report on Tuesday afternoon. A special website for the initiative will also launch tomorrow.

“Fatherhood is a gift, a privilege and a responsibility," Anderson says in a video message on the Fathers for Good website. The way in which men accept the gift of fatherhood, he continues, determines the ways in which they will build up their families and communities.

"By being faithful to our calling as husbands and fathers," Anderson notes, "we are ultimately being faithful to ourselves."

The theme for the website, “A Father’s Identity,” is examined in resources meant to help men build a strong, loving, and confident identity in a culture that “often does not value fatherhood or masculine virtues,” a Knights of Columbus statement says. Future website themes will be determined by votes from visitors.

Featuring videos, podcasts, a bookstore, and opportunities for questions to be answered in e-mail exchanges, the site provides expert advice on how men can be better fathers and husbands and includes information on men’s health and financial issues. It also discusses male spirituality and men’s relationship with God, topics that the Knights of Columbus say are often overlooked at other men’s sites.

In some of the highlighted podcasts, New York Giants Super Bowl champion Chris Godfrey explains how to talk about sex with one’s children, while pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker delivers a special message to fathers about their relationships with their children.

Addressing a press conference held Monday in Quebec City, Knights of Columbus vice president of communications Patrick Korten explained that the Knights are very aware that this is an election year.

“There are a few issues that are of extreme interest to us as Catholics and Knights” and among these are “the life issues and marriage,” Korten said.

According to the Knights, the fatherhood initiative flows out of those concerns.

The "Fathers for Good" web site is located at www.fathersforgood.org.

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Anglican bishops critical of Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan for church unity

London, England, Aug 4, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has said the Anglican Communion can help solve its present conflicts by observing moratoria upon the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of openly homosexual bishops, and the consecration of bishops who cross province boundaries to minister to evangelical congregations in liberal dioceses. However, some Anglican bishops say the plan will not work, with one prelate calling for the liberal churches’ “orderly separation” from the communion.

Archbishop Williams, speaking in an address on Sunday that marked the close of the Anglican Communion’s 2008 Lambeth Conference, said the “pieces are on the board” to overcome Anglican controversies which include concerns surrounding theology, biblical authority, and sexual ethics. Advocating a “global Church of interdependent communities,” he said there was still much work to do to overcome the disputes, the Times Online reports.

However, it is believed that conservative bishops will continue to consecrate boundary-crossing bishops. Bishop Gregory Venables, the Primate of the Southern Cone, has taken an entire U.S. diocese into his province and is expected to continue attracting parishes and diocese from the Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, homosexual lobbyists in the U.S.-based group Integrity said they would fight the moratoria forbidding the ordination of homosexual clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

"We bless same-sex relationships and will continue to do so,” said Reverend Susan Russell, a member of Integrity.

A survey of 100 bishops at the Lambeth Conference was conducted by the Times Online, finding that 90 percent felt there was still value in the communion. Twenty-five percent said there would be value in moving to a looser federation of churches, but the vast majority reportedly preferred the present, more structured church organization.

The survey did not measure the views of the more than 230 mainly African bishops and archbishops who boycotted the conference.

“The majority of English bishops believe that it has been a good conference. There has been real listening and real hearing,” said Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford. "There are no instant solutions to the big difficulties but there is a commitment to stay together and work on it.”

Other prelates are less optimistic, saying the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan will not work.

“The Lambeth Conference is required to do something rather than live down to the worst expectations of the bishops who stayed away,” stated Bishop of Winchester Michael Scott-Joynt, according to the Telegraph. “We need to negotiate a separation in the Communion sooner rather than later, to leave the strongest possibility of remaining in some kind of fellowship.”

“The most unhealthy thing would be to allow the debate to continue for a long time,” the bishop continued. “We would have only ourselves to blame if more of the provinces go their own way.”

Bishop of Exeter Michael Langrish voiced similar views, accusing the U.S. Episcopal Church of being selfish and establishing a rival church.

“The vast majority want to take steps towards restoring Communion, but a smaller group base the language of Communion on feelings — what it means to me, what can I get from it,” Bishop Langrish claimed, arguing that more permissive Churches should be pushed to the margins.

“A major question is how we move towards that point — the highest degree of fellowship whilst allowing for an orderly separation,” he said.

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