Chicago, Ill., Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus-sponsored “Reclaiming Fatherhood” conference was held in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the effect of abortion on men. Psychologists, counselors, academics, and clergy argued that not only women but also men suffer the “invisible problem” of profound grief and suffering as a result of abortion.
Monday’s speakers included several fathers who had lost their children to abortion.
Psychologist Dr. Vincent Rue, a practicing psychotherapist who has served on the faculty of two California universities, argued that the grief of such post-abortive men challenges the American Psychological Association’s (APA) recent claim that abortion is psychologically safe for women.
“The APA has missed the boat and has misguided the American public,” Rue said. “It is out of touch with reality and the pain and suffering of these very real people.”
He noted that the APA’s position is also contradicted by a statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Britain which warned that the issue “remains to be fully resolved” and called for further study and counseling for women about possible consequences.
The speaker also cited an August 23 article in the British medical journal The Lancet, which conceded that there is no causal link between abortion and ill health, but also warned “the fact that some women do experience psychological problems after a termination should not be trivialized.”
Rue added: “Perhaps it’s time to include discussion of the psychological risks for their partners and their relationships as well since the majority fail after abortion.”
Psychologist Dr. Catherine Coyle said that those grieving after an abortion “need to realize that they are not alone. It is the compassionate thing for us to do to recognize that some people – men and women – have profound grief and suffering after an abortion. And if we are to be a compassionate society, we must validate their pain and provide the help they need regardless of where we may stand individually on the issue of abortion.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago Office for Evangelization joined the Knights of Columbus in sponsoring the “Reclaiming Fatherhood” conference, which was organized by the Milwaukee-based National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing.
, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, on Tuesday addressed a symposium which examined how to support victims of terrorism. Calling terrorism a “direct affront to humanity,” he encouraged the work of grief counseling and spiritual support centers that help break the “continuous cycles of violence.”
Archbishop Migliore said the meeting would help address the “fundamental needs” of terrorism victims, whether their needs are physical, mental, or spiritual.
“Terrorist acts deny people not only their fundamental human rights but also strike at the very heart of the things we hold close: our families, our homes and our basic trust in humanity,” he said. “By hearing the voices of victims and remembering those whose voices have been taken, we are given the opportunity of finding ways to rebuild lives, alleviate suffering and end the senseless cycles of violence and hatred.”
The archbishop noted that Pope John Paul II had called for a day of fasting and solidarity in support of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City and Washington, D.C. and to encourage “healing among various faiths and cultures.”
The Holy See and Catholic organizations, Archbishop Migliore explained, have helped terrorism victims around the world with immediate assistance, counseling, food, security and shelter.
“The direct involvement of these organizations demonstrates yet again the valuable contribution of civil society organizations to promoting human rights and human dignity,” the archbishop said.
Noting that the long-term spiritual and psychological effects of terrorism should also be addressed, Archbishop Migliore praised grief counseling and spiritual support centers both for helping victims and for helping prevent reprisals and continued violence.
“Programs which provide restorative justice to the victims of terrorism help to alleviate the continuous cycles of violence, hatred and mistrust,” he said.
Deeming debates about the identity of the victims and the perpetrators of terrorist activities necessary for anti-terrorism strategy, the archbishop nevertheless urged that such debates should not “cloud or obfuscate the urgency to address the immediate needs of those whose lives and livelihoods are lost by this direct affront to humanity.”
“In the end,” Archbishop Migliore concluded, “terrorist activity does nothing to promote authentic political or social aims but only ensures the creation of more victims. Whether these victims are created as a result of initial terrorist activity or as a result of indiscriminate reactions to terrorist actions, the cycle of violence begets only suffering, fear and hatred. While we rightly condemn all acts of terrorism, care must be taken in order to give a voice to those whose voices have been wrongfully taken.”
Chicago, Ill., Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - CatholicVote.com, a new educational website targeting Catholic voters, has been launched by the Catholic-inspired group Fidelis. The site provides information on voter registration, candidate positions, documents from Catholic bishops, and an invitation to prayer.
The web site, which does not endorse any candidate, includes a three-and-a-half minute documentary on Catholic contributions to public life, examining Catholics’ advocacy of civil rights, human dignity, and the family throughout American history.
Brian Burch, director of CatholicVote.com, explained in a press release the motives for the web site:
“The U.S. Bishops have stated that ‘responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. We launched CatholicVote.com to provide Catholics and all people of good will with the tools to both educate and inspire their fellow citizens as they prepare to vote in November.”
Burch said the web site is a complement to voter guides, statements, and resources developed by other organizations.
“Our hope is to not only win over the minds of voters, but also the hearts of American Catholics and Christians,” Burch explained.
“There’s no reason Catholics should be silent about the wonderful contribution Catholics have made to American life,” he continued. “Catholics have a rich heritage of fighting injustice and helping the poor and the defenseless. As Archbishop Chaput says so wonderfully in his new book Render Unto Casear, we serve the nation when we live our Catholic beliefs in political life.”
Burch said that the 67 million Catholic voters are critical to American elections, claiming that Catholics vote in higher numbers than the rest of the population and are influential in the swing states of Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.
“We encourage all Catholics to take a look at CatholicVote.com,” Burch remarked. “At the site, you can register to vote and join other Catholics in prayer. You can also read up on the issues, and most importantly, send the video to your friends. There is plenty of evangelization to be done when it comes to voting.”
The web site can be found at: www.catholicvote.com.
Vatican City, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received bishops from the South American country of Paraguay, and called on them to make a “vast missionary effort” with a focus on enlisting the help of the laity, especially in the realm of politics.
The bishops completed their “ad limina” visit by meeting with Pope Benedict, who offered them an assessment of the challenges facing their local church.
"The pastoral challenges you are facing are truly large and complex," he said. "Faced with a cultural environment that seeks to marginalize God from people and from society, or that considers Him as an obstacle to the pursuit of its own happiness, it is vital to make a vast missionary effort which, placing Jesus Christ at the centre of all pastoral activity, reveals to everyone the beauty and truth of His life and His message of salvation."
After encouraging the prelates to continue to make every possible effort "to increase unity within diocesan communities, and with this Apostolic See," the Pope expressed his appreciation at the Paraguayan bishops' choice of "the pastoral care of youth and vocations" as one of their priorities. He pointed out that the “conviction and faithfulness” of priests is a very effective way to encourage young people to respond to the call of the Lord.
The call to bring the Gospel to the ends of the Earth requires more than priestly and religious vocations, the Pontiff told the bishops. In its “vast missionary effort” the Church must also bring the laity to the fore. Calling the laity’s help “indispensable,” the Holy Father described their specific vocation as “impregnating the temporal world with the Christian spirit, and transforming it in accordance with the divine plan.” He added that “pastors have the duty to offer them all the spiritual and formative means they need."
Pope Benedict then turned his attention to the political realm, which has recently seen the election of Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop, as the nation’s president.
"One significant aspect of the mission of the laity is the service of society through political activity." For this reason, "they must be encouraged ... to practice responsibility and dedication in this important dimension of social charity, so that the human community of which they are part ... may progress in justice, in honor and in the defense of true and authentic values such as the protection of human life, of marriage and of the family, thus contributing to the real human and spiritual benefit of all society," the Pope said.
The Pope concluded his remarks by praising the bishops' efforts to "alleviate the needs of the people," and by calling on them to be "a living image of Christ's charity for all your brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer most: the marginalized, the elderly, the sick and the imprisoned."
Vatican City, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - The vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Archbishop Octavio Ruiz Arenas commented this week on Pope Benedict’s trip to France, saying that it is “truly a Marian pilgrimage” and that “he [the Pope] wants to place great emphasis on the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes.”
Archbishop Ruiz made his statements on Vatican Radio, adding that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception reminds “the entire Church that Mary was born without original sin and was full of grace from the very moment of her conception in preparation for that magnificent event of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Therefore the visit of the Holy Father to Lourdes constitutes first of all recognition by the Church of that dogma that has touched the deepest part of the hearts of all Catholics.”
“And secondly it is to accompany all those persons who with faith and devotion take refuge in the protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and pray to her not only for the health of their bodies but also for the grace of their conversion,” he continued.
“Therefore let us join the Holy Father on his pilgrimage and pray that through him we can hear those words that fill all Catholics with joy recalling the glories of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.”
Hanoi, Vietnam, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Thousands of Catholics in Hanoi are continuing their peaceful protests asking for the return of their land illegally seized by the Vietnamese government. Worried about the international exposure of their tactics, the police are engaging in a campaign against journalists and foreign media.
With tensions simmering between the police and the Catholic protestors, the government has spent the better part of the past month using its influence in the state media to spread false accusations, defame parishioners, their priests, and the Church as a whole.
False priests and people who aren’t even Catholics have also been trotted out for TV interviews, radio, and newspapers.
The police have even gone so far as to physically attack some of the protestors, local sources report.
Realizing that their efforts to distort the Catholic protests are not succeeding when it comes to international news outlets, such as CNA, the Vietnamese police have made internet reporting a crime and have organized a manhunt for Catholic reporters.
One source informed CNA that plain-clothed police are hunting for Catholic reporters who have corresponded with media outlets regarding developments of the protests.
One Catholic reporter, who asked to remain anonymous out fear of being discovered, related a recent incident. “I was about to send an email, when police swamped in. The person next to me had his browsing history inspected. He was even forced to log into his Gmail account for a ‘security inspection’.”
The Vietnamese government is closely monitoring reports of Catholic outlets on the protests. “You are in serious trouble should your browsing history include Asia-News, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News, Independent Catholic News, VietCatholic News, Zenit...just to say a few names,” the source warned.
Vatican City, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - A cardinal who assisted those sentenced to be deported during World War II died September 6 at the age of 93. Yesterday, Benedict XVI spoke of Cardinal Anthony Innocenti’s life in a homily at the Vatican Basilica.
The Holy Father began his homily on Wednesday morning by sharing the details of the Italian cardinal’s life.
After his priestly ordination in 1938, Cardinal Innocenti taught at the diocesan seminary. During World War II, he accompanied his bishop on pastoral visits. “In that dramatic period he stood out for his selflessness and generosity in helping people and saving those destined for deportation. For this he was arrested and condemned to be shot, but the order was reversed as he stood before of the firing squad,” Benedict XVI recalled.
After the war, the cardinal served the Church in Rome. He was “appointed as pontifical representative to Paraguay” and was ordained a bishop in 1968. Later, he was appointed to serve in Rome and assumed “the role of secretary of the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship. Later, in 1980, he was sent as apostolic nuncio to Spain where he twice welcomed my venerated predecessor John Paul II on pastoral visits."
He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1985.
Cardinal Innocenti held the following positions at the Vatican: prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church and of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."
Referring to Cardinal Innocenti's episcopal motto, "Lucem spero fide," Pope Benedict concluded his homily by expressing the desire that "faith and hope may give way to the greatest of all truths, the charity which will never end."
Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis George, speaking as President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has asked the U.S. government to lift its ban on remittances and travel to Cuba in a Wednesday letter to President George W. Bush.
“In light of the devastation and humanitarian disaster caused by recent hurricanes in Cuba and the efforts of extended families, friends and organizations to reach those in need, I urge you to suspend – even temporarily - Treasury and Commerce Department restrictions and licensing requirements for humanitarian travel and remittances by American citizens and assistance by not-for-profit organizations,” Cardinal George wrote.
“At times of crisis, there are simple and basic acts of charity on which people rely,” he continued.
Saying the United States can be “rightly proud” of its tradition of humanitarian assistance, the cardinal urged that everything be done to facilitate relief efforts, whether through private donations or organizations like Catholic Relief Services.
“Removing restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba are a necessary step which I urge you to take without delay,” Cardinal George wrote.
Blair Jones with the White House Media Affairs office referred CNA to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent comments concerning the restrictions on Cuba.
During a Sunday appearance with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri, Secretary Rice said:
“The President made a very forward-leaning speech on Cuba that -- a couple of years ago, actually -- that made clear that the United States would be responsive to a Cuban regime that was prepared to release political prisoners, have a process to get to free and fair elections, and that the United States would be open to that regime. But we have seen nothing that suggests that that has come about.”
“What we cannot do is to have the transfer of power from one dictatorial regime to another. That is not acceptable in a Western hemisphere that is democratic, and it is not acceptable for the Cuban people. And so, I don't think that, in the context that we see now, that a lifting of the embargo would be wise.”
Jones also provided to CNA a U.S. State Department “fact sheet” on humanitarian assistance to Cuba.
The September 9 fact sheet says that the U.S. is providing $100,000 in emergency assistance to non-government organizations (NGOs) engaging in relief work in response to the hurricanes. Following Hurricane Gustav, the government has increased existing authorizations for U.S.-based NGOs to provide larger amounts of humanitarian assistance “to help address the basic needs of the Cuban people.”
The U.S. government reportedly will expedite applications for humanitarian assistance of up to $10 million per NGO, “subject to appropriate restrictions.”
The fact sheet encourages individuals and organizations to provide cash donations to “reputable humanitarian assistance organizations that are licensed to send humanitarian aid to Cuba.”
According to the U.S. State Department, the American people are the largest suppliers of humanitarian aid to Cuba, sending $240.7 million in private assistance in 2007.
Paris, France, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris, has spoken about Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to France, saying the visit will be an opportunity for French citizens to “get acquainted” with the Pope.
“Many French people, even Catholics, have never had a chance to see Benedict XVI live,” Cardinal Vingt-Trois said, speaking in a Wednesday interview with Le Croix.
The cardinal noted that some French citizens had met the Pope when as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger he delivered lectures at the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences or the Sorbonne. However, these lectures involved “a rather restricted and quite specialized audience,” according to SIR.
The Pope’s arrival in Paris and Lourdes is a chance for French citizens to know “his personality,” not only his texts or speeches.
Cardinal Vingt-Trois said during the papal visit, people will see “who he is and how he gets on with other people. All that will render their acquaintance with him more human and more concrete.”
The cardinal also tried to calm fears about the kind of reaction Pope Benedict’s scheduled speeches could provoke.
“The Pope says things serenely and clearly; he never wants to provoke or cause arguments. He is a man who knows how to listen and meet the currents of thought of our time,” he said.
According to SRI, the French daily Le Parisien has published the results of a telephone poll showing that 53 percent of Frenchmen have either a “high” or “quite high” opinion of Pope Benedict, with 25 percent reporting they have a low opinion. Among Catholics, 65 percent have a high or very high opinion of the Pontiff.
Over 75 percent of respondents believe Pope Benedict is conservative, a figure Le Parisien attributes to “the acceptance of the Latin Mass among the French general public.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Baltazar Porras of Merida in Venezuela warned this week that the 26 laws passed in July by President Hugo Chavez “are essentially aimed at consolidating the power and control of the State government over citizens.” Speaking on local radio, the archbishop said the package of 26 laws is unconstitutional and shows that the government completely lacks knowledge of the law.
Archbishop Porras said the new laws are an attempt to put an end to the 1999 Constitution. “It undermines the security, tranquility, the present and the future of all Venezuelans. This is evident in many concrete situations, such as the power outages that have become a chronic problem in some regions of the country,” he said.
In order for laws to “make any sense, they need to represent the interests, concerns and hopes of the entire populace,” the archbishop continued, saying laws should not be hastily passed without taking into consideration “all of our institutions and our people.”
Hanoi, Vietnam, Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - Despite Vietnamese officials’ threats of “extreme actions,” many Catholic faithful are converging on Hanoi to join the demonstrations seeking the return of confiscated church property. Some laity, priests, and bishops have traveled more than 200 miles to join the demonstrations at Thai Ha church.
Writing in two newspapers on Monday, Lt. General Nguyen Van Huong, Vice-Minister of Public Security and Major-General Nguyen Duc Nhanh, the Director of the Hanoi Police Agency warned the Archbishop of Hanoi, Ngo Quang Kiet, of an imminent crackdown on the demonstrators.
Major-General Nanh even reportedly threatened to punish anyone who writes and distributes any internet articles about the Catholics’ demonstrations.
Francis Nguyen Van Sang, the Bishop of Thai Binh, responded to the officals’ comments in a Thursday statement titled “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.” He warned the government “not to use the sword,” saying “using the sword against innocent civilians is shameful, and will be condemned by international public opinion.”
Bishop Francis Nguyen explained that the Thai Ha parishioners have repeatedly requested the return of their property, arguing that it was seized illegally.
“Only those who are totally devoid of all conscience can ignore the truth,” Bishop Francis Nguyen added in his statement, warning that “Dishonesty and brutality cannot dominate forever.”
Regardless of threats of violence from the government, “thousands of Catholics continue to gather daily here to pray,” Fr. Joseph Nguyen, a priest from Hanoi, told CNA.
“They go in procession from the monastery to the disputed land where, most of the time, they just stand in silence to pray for hours while braving cold rain and hot sun,” he added.
“The prayer protest is very peaceful,” Fr. Joseph explained. “Sometimes protestors sing hymns, sometimes they sing the rosary together. But they never yell or shout any slogans. They just stand there silently but stubbornly asking for justice.”
Several bishops from other dioceses, along with many priests and laymen, have joined the protest. Thousands of Catholics in nearby provinces had to ride bicycles to Thai Ha after police forced their buses to return.
The 82-year-old Bishop of Vinh, Paul Cao Dinh Thuyen, traveled more than 200 miles to Thai Ha on Wednesday.
“The problem of Thai Ha is also a trouble of Vinh and Thanh Hoa diocese, and of the entire Church in Vietnam,” the bishop said on his arrival.
Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, the Bishop of Thai Hoa, concelebrated Mass for protestors with Bishop Paul Cao and Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan of Lang Son, who has been with the protestors since last Friday.
“We are here to show our communion with you,” said Bishop Joseph Nguyen in his sermon. He asked everyone to pray intensely “for those who were arrested and for those who have been harassed somehow by the government.”
Another bishop had joined the protestors on Tuesday. Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh led 39 priests and hundreds of faithful from his diocese to Thai Ha to pray with the demonstrators.
“I have prayed for you from a far distance,” the bishop said. “Today, I want to be with you here at the church where I used to attend Mass in childhood… to show my solidarity with you.”
Bishop Cosme Hoang was appointed bishop of Bac Ninh on April 4. Last week he consecrated a church in Tam Dao which had been seized by the government 54 years ago. The church was returned to the diocese on August 8, after which the congregation of more than 2,000 faithful knelt down in front of the church’s altar asking God to forgive them for their failure to protect the Lord’s House.
Wilmington, Del., Sep 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Biden’s erroneous comments about Church teaching on abortion have prompted corrections from many U.S. bishops. Now Biden’s own bishop has responded by saying the sanctity of life is ‘crucial’ for a just society, with the Bishop of Fargo adding that “Our precious unborn children need us to speak for them.”
Biden, a Delaware U.S. Senator, had appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press last Sunday. There, he claimed that the point at which life begins is a matter of faith and stated that he cannot “impose” his beliefs about human life upon others.
W. Francis Malooly, the new Bishop of Wilmington, issued a statement on Wednesday duplicating the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement authored by Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William E. Lori.
The two bishops in a Tuesday statement emphasized that the duty to protect the unborn is not a “private” or “specifically religious” issue. They argued that embryology textbooks teach that life begins at conception and called the duty to protect the unborn a “demand of justice.”
Bishop Malooly, after reproducing the two bishops’ statement, said:
“It is my intention to build a supportive and trusting friendship with Senator Biden and as many public officials as I can. I will do my best, with your prayers, to assist him and all public officials as well as all citizens in our Diocese and beyond to understand how crucial the sanctity of human life is to a just society in the State of Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and our entire nation.”
Bishop Samuel Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo also addressed Sen. Biden’s remarks in a Wednesday letter to the priests of his diocese.
“Senator Biden, and all others who mistakenly claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion confuse matters more by implying that the time of when life begins is a matter of faith, and not that of science, the natural law, or truth,” Bishop Aquila wrote. “Any person who has studied biology, whether they are a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic or atheist, knows that human life begins at the moment of conception.”
Catholic teaching on abortion, Bishop Aquila noted, is explained at length in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae.
“As there is confusion on the matter of abortion in the minds of some Catholics,” the bishop continued, “we have the responsibility to clearly articulate the truths of natural reason and the teaching of the Church and help all of our faithful understand the teaching. We cannot be silent in the face of such a holocaust of innocent human life. Our precious unborn children need us to speak for them.”
The U.S. Bishops’ Conference has also responded by adding a discussion of certain Catholics’ political support for abortion to the agenda of the bishop’s annual assembly in Baltimore this November, saying they are doing so “in light of recent comments by Catholic politicians misrepresenting Catholic teaching.”
A USCCB press release added: “We confirm the Catholic Church's constant teaching about the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception and the intrinsic evil of abortion. As the teachers of the faith, we also point out the connectedness between the evil of abortion and political support for abortion.”