Archive of September 5, 2008

Italian priest fined $80,000 for church bells’ ‘noise pollution’

Rome, Italy, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - An Italian priest has been ordered to pay more than eighty thousand dollars to a woman living near his church because she claims the bells were rung too loud and too long at “unsocial hours.”

The judgment was handed down by a court in the town of Chiavari after retired university teacher Flora Leuzzi and others claimed the ringing of church bells created a form of noise pollution, the Guardian reports.

Professor Leuzzi lives close to the Carmine church in Lavagna, which is near Genoa. She first voiced complaints about the bell ringing 13 years ago.

The judge ruled that the bells emitted sound louder than average and agreed Leuzzi’s hearing had been marginally impaired.

He awarded about $13,000 for “biological damage” but more than $66,000 for the disruption of the professor’s social life.

Witnesses testified that they had stopped visiting Leuzzi because of the noise.

Under the decision, Father Stefano Queirolo may only ring the bells for Sunday Mass and at Christmas and Easter. The bells may be rung no longer than 20 seconds.

Father Queirolo reportedly said he expected the diocese to appeal the decision, explaining that the belfry had been soundproofed.

“We haven't been ringing the bells for at least four years now," he said, according to the Guardian.

Italy has among the highest density of churches in Europe.

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Arizona bishops back state marriage amendment

Phoenix, Ariz., Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - The bishops of Arizona on Thursday released a statement encouraging voters to support Proposition 102, an amendment on the November ballot that would establish a legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. “We believe Proposition 102 is in alignment with our deeply held moral beliefs regarding marriage,” they said.

Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop of Tucson Gerald F. Kicanas explained that they backed the amendment because they believe that without “constitutional protection,” the state’s present law on marriage could be changed “to the detriment of society.”

“Without constitutional protection, the legal definition of marriage as we understand it today in Arizona is subject to redefinition,” they argued.

According to the bishops’ letter, the proposition states: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.”

“Our support is based upon our Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage as a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love,” the bishops wrote in their statement.

Bishops Olmsted and Kicanas also encouraged Catholic voters in their dioceses and all Arizona voters to read their 2006 pastoral letter “Why is Marriage Important to the Catholic Church?”

The letter can be read at

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Philippines archbishop optimistic ‘reproductive health’ bill will fail to pass

Manila, Philippines, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto, a prominent bishop from the Philippines, on Thursday said he is confident the country’s lawmakers will not pass a “reproductive health” bill that recommends a “two-child policy” and funding sterilizations and contraceptive distribution.

The 71-year-old archbishop heads the Archdiocese of San Fernando (Pampanga) and is chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) Commission on Family Life, CBCP News reports.

Speaking in an interview with Catholic-run Veritas 846 Radio, he recounted his meeting with pro-life lawmakers at the Philippines’ House of Representatives, where he concelebrated a Mass.

“We asked for God’s blessing and graces that lawmakers be able to discern, pray and listen to their constituents, for them to respect the rights and dignity of their constituents, the majority of whom are Catholics,” the archbishop said, adding he believes that lawmakers will continue to believe in the moral law.

Archbishop Aniceto accused the bill of being anti-poor, claiming that the Philippines’ “human resources” are a great advantage.

“Filipinos are industrious, intelligent, creative, and just give them the opportunity to work and they make themselves productive,” he stated.

The archbishop encouraged Catholic lawmakers to support publicly the pro-life convictions of their faith.

Since they were elected by a great majority of Catholic voters, he said, “It is expected they will listen to their conscience and remember the Ten Commandments.”

He alleged that pharmaceutical companies have backed the lobbyists for the bill, as they expect huge profits from the sale of contraceptives, according to CBCP News.

Further, Archbishop Aniceto claimed  European countries and even the Americas have begun to suffer from a “demographic winter” in which the elderly population significantly outnumbers the younger demographic.

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Papal calendar: Lourdes visit, four new saints and the Bible Synod

Vatican City, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - This morning the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published a list of celebrations that Pope Benedict will preside over through the month of November.

Among the notable celebrations are: the visit to Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions there, the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible, and the canonization of four blesseds.

The full schedule is as follows:


Sunday 7: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Pastoral visit to Cagliari, Italy.

Friday 12 - Monday 15: Pastoral visit to France for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes.

Sunday 21: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9:00 a.m. in the cathedral of Albano, Italy, Mass and dedication of the altar.


Sunday 5: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9:30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

Thursday 9: At 11:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

Sunday 12: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 10:00 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, canonization of the following blesseds: Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Butler, Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception (nee: Anna Muttathupandathu), and Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran.

Sunday 19: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Pastoral visit to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary of Pompei, Italy. Mass at 10:00 a.m. and praying of the Rosary at 5 p.m.

Sunday 26: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, conclusion of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.


Monday 3: At 11:30 a.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year.


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New earthquake in China affects Catholic buildings in region of Sichuan

, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - UCA News agency reported this week that the Diocese of Xichang in the Chinese province of Sichuan is helping victims and assessing damage to Catholic buildings after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the region on August 30.

UCA news reported that the epicenter of the August 30 earthquake “was where Panzhihua city and Huili county meet in southern Sichuan, near the border with Yunnan province.

The official China Earthquake Administration reported on September 1 that the  Panzhihua-Huili earthquake had killed 36 people and injured another 506.

Xichang diocese, based in the city of the same name, 1,890 kilometers southwest of Beijing, covers the affected area.”  Father John Lei Jiapei, diocesan administrator, told UCA News that parish priests at Panzhihua and Huili “have gone to remote rural areas to check on the situation of local Catholics.”

Father Joseph visited the century-old church in Mugu on September 2 and said it had suffered some damage during the quake.  About 700 Catholics live nearby, and the priest holds Mass for them once a month.

Father John Wang Shengjun, a parish priest in Panzhihua, told UCA the Catholic community in Datian had been seriously affected by the quake. A number of homes were destroyed, although no one was hurt.

The community center was damaged in the quake and the priest's dormitory next to it is tilted, Father Wang reported. None of the 500 Catholics were injured, but a dozen of their homes were damaged or collapsed, he said.  Father Wang holds Mass once a month at Datian, but local Catholics gather on their own for the Way of the Cross on Fridays and prayer services on Sundays. "It is lucky that there was no Church activity when the quake hit," he said.

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Christians in India should be authentic disciples of Christ, says successor of Mother Teresa

Rome, Italy, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - The Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Mary Nirmala Joshi, said this week that, inspired by the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “the Christian testimony needed today in India consists in being authentic disciples of Christ,” amidst the wave of anti-Christian violence which has so far taken the lives of 26 people in the region of Orissa.

In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano on the anniversary of the death of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Sister Nirmala said that several days ago she sent a message to Orissa and to all of India saying, “It is not necessary to use religion to divide us, and violence in the name of religion is an abuse of religion itself.  As Mother Teresa used to say, ‘Religion is a work of love. It has not been created to destroy peace and unity’.”

After encouraging everyone in India to abandon violence and put on “the armor of love,” Sr. Nirmala offered prayers for those who live died from the violence by Hindu extremists against Christians. Sister Nirmala also expressed her hope that, with the intercession of Mother Teresa, “We can become instruments of God and of his peace, builders of the civilization of love.”

The leader of the Missionaries of Charity also mentioned the celebration of the anniversary of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and explained that the festivities are “an expression of our profound gratitude to God for the gift of her life of holiness and her worldwide mission of love for the poorest of the poor.”

She went on to point out that in Calcutta, at the tomb of Mother Teresa, Mass preceded by the Rosary was celebrated for nine days straight. “Non-Catholics and people of all religions also come to do her homage, praying, bringing flowers and candles, and imploring the intercession of Mother,” she said.
In mentioning what Blessed Teresa means for the people of India, Sister Nirmala underscored that “she is our mother for all the inhabitants of India, of every age, religion, caste, creed, color, rich and poor, healthy and sick.  The numerous persons touched by her unconditional love have learned to love those who belong to different religions, castes and economic conditions.  Mother has taught with her word and example that any thing that we do to the least of these brothers we do to God himself,” she said.

Sister Nirmala later underscored that “the inhabitants of India are very proud of Mother (Teresa). In her they have found somebody who truly cares for them.  Her life is a source of inspiration for all.  In her name all hearts and doors are opened. In her they see an authentic India,” and Indians see “in her the incarnation of God himself.”

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Message of Jesus inspired founding of Christian Liberation Movement, dissident leader says

Havana, Cuba, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, said this week the “liberating message” of Jesus was what inspired the creation of this dissident movement that seeks peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba through the Varela Project.

“Everything began very simply. We were inspired by Jesus when he said in the Gospel: ‘Therefore, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’  And we discovered that in this phrase of Jesus, as in the entire Gospel, there is a message of liberation,” Paya said on the occasion of the CLM’s 20th anniversary.

In a message, Paya said, “We need to tell Cubans that their lives, their dignity and their freedom” belong to God, “and nobody, not even Caesar, can take that away from them if they don’t give in to fear or other things.”

Paya recalled that throughout the years, Cubans of diverse tendencies and from all parts joined the CLM, which does not have a specific religious identity but is “inspired in the Gospel.” “We are all moved by love for Cuba and for freedom,” he said.

The movement was born “to proclaim that we are all brothers and that love and that the power of the state or of the market should not be the basis of relationships in our society and among all the peoples of the earth,” Paya stated.

He warned that as long as the “indivisible” people of Cuba do not have the right of free expression guaranteed in law, “there will be oppression and feigning” on the island.

He noted that many of the CLM’s leaders who have demanded this right are in prison as well as “many others of our brothers and sisters from other democratic groups and independent journalists.”

“Our children deserve the truth and freedom and not to live in the humiliation of a great show of lies and a culture of death that are only sustained through the force of repression,” Paya continued.

For this reason he announced the re-launching of the Varela Project, to demand “that the people be given a voice through a referendum and demanding fundamental rights for all Cubans.”

“The totalitarian government is afraid that Cubans will no longer be afraid, because this is its main tool for controlling people.  For this reason the signature campaign of the Varela Project continues now more than ever because it is liberating, because it overcomes fear and transparently opens the way towards a peaceful solution,” Paya said.

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Archbishop Chaput’s book makes NYT Best Seller List, beats Biden’s book

, Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - Just three weeks into the publication of “Render Unto Caesar,” Archbishop Charles Chaput’s new book has made the New York Times Best Seller list. The archbishop’s book is currently one place ahead of “Promises to Keep,” written by Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden.

“Render Unto Caesar” is currently number 27 on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers List for the week of September 14, outpacing Sen. Biden’s book by one spot. During the week of August 29, “Render Unto Caesar” was the 24th best selling nonfiction book and the number five best selling hardcover nonfiction book published by Random House, according to the company’s website.

In “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life,” the Archbishop of Denver explains that Catholics must bring their convictions into the voting booth, and argues that Catholics’ citizenship must be grounded in religious belief as a moral duty, a gift to American life.

The archbishop urges Catholics to strengthen their voices on abortion, the death penalty, immigration, poverty and other social justice issues.

His book reaffirms the close link between personal Catholic faith and public action and also defends the right of religious believers to challenge secular authority in the name of human dignity. “In this sense, the Catholic church cannot stay, has never stayed, and never will stay out of politics,” he writes.

“Render Unto Caesar” can be ordered on at


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Citing abortion comments, Archbishop Niederauer invites Pelosi to conversation

San Francisco, Calif., Sep 5, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of San Francisco George H. Niederauer has issued a response to remarks made by U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi regarding her recent comments on abortion and Catholic teaching. Commenting that her rejection of the immorality of abortion has produced “widespread consternation,” the archbishop said it is his duty to consider whether Rep. Pelosi should receive Holy Communion. He then invited the Democratic leader to converse with him about Catholic faith and morals.

Writing in the September 5 issue of Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Niederauer stated that Rep. Pelosi’s remarks were in “serious conflict” with Church teaching. He said it was his responsibility to “teach clearly what Christ in his Church teaches about faith and morals, and to oppose erroneous, misleading and confusing positions when they are advanced.”

Citing other bishops’ comments on Rep. Pelosi’s two televised interviews and a statement released through her office, he said it was his “particular duty” to address them.

On an August 24 interview on Meet the Press, Rep. Pelosi referenced her dissent from Church teaching, saying, “So there's some areas where we're in agreement and some areas where we're not, and one being a woman's right to choose, and the other being stem cell research.”

Calling Rep. Pelosi a “gifted, dedicated and accomplished public servant,” the archbishop noted both her statements about “her love for her faith and the Catholic Church” and her support for some legislation that is in line with the social teaching of the Church.

“However,” Archbishop Niederauer said, “her recent remarks are opposed to Church teaching.”  

The archbishop cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which calls direct abortion “grossly contrary to the moral law,” adding that the early Christian writings called the Didache also commands: “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.”

He then referenced Rep. Pelosi’s August 26 statement which said “While Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not ascribe [sic] to that view.”

Criticizing her remark, the archbishop said it “suggests that morality can be decided by poll, by numbers. If ninety percent of Catholics subscribe to the view that human life begins at conception, does that makes Church teaching truer than if only seventy percent or fifty percent agree?” he asked.

He then emphasized the Catholic teachings on the authority of the Church, citing the Second Vatican Council. “As Catholics, we believe what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals, for to hear the voice of the Church on those matters is to hear the voice of Christ himself,” he said.

Archbishop Niederauer reported that many Catholics have written him messages in which they had “expressed their dismay and concern about the speaker’s remarks” and had asked whether it was necessary to deny Holy Communion to some Catholic figures in public life because of their open support of abortion.

Noting that Catholics ought to receive Holy Communion worthily, he said that self-examination should help us realize whether we have committed a serious sin and should seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The U.S. bishops’ 2006 document “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper,” he remarked, advises “we should be cautious when making judgments about whether or not someone else should receive Holy Communion." The document adds that Catholics who “knowingly and obstinately” reject defined doctrines of the Church or Church teaching on moral issues should refrain from that Sacrament.

“To give selective assent to the teachings of the Church deprives us of her life-giving message, but also seriously endangers our communion with her," the 2006 document says.

The archbishop cited the writings of his predecessor who is now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada. In 2004 Cardinal Levada wrote that each individual bishop must decide whether to deny someone Holy Communion.

“From that statement I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco,” Archbishop Niederauer wrote.

“I regret the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum,” he continued, “but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable. Speaker Pelosi has often said how highly she values her Catholic faith, and how much it is a source of joy for her. Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters.

“It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent. Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace.”

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