Rome, Italy, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Diocese of Hong Kong continues to benefit from its World Youth Day 2008 pilgrims, observing increased participation, strengthened faith and more vocations among the youth, a report in the diocesan bulletin says.
Father S. Kalisz, OMI described the benefits of World Youth Day (WYD) to the readers of diocesan bulletin.
“After WYD, we saw the greatest level of youth participation in parish life. Many youth are maturing in their decision to enter religious life and the spirit of WYD lives on, helping the youth to live their faith more deeply.”
The priest said that the Oblates of Mary Immaculate youth group, which was begun after WYD, shows some of the spiritual fruits of the event.
For the youth group, “a dozen young people get together to pray often and participate together in the Mass. They have even shared their experiences with the other parishioners. They do social service work, especially with the poor. I am glad that through Saint Eugene de Mazenod, our founder, the youth are becoming more aware of the value of faith and charity. I have seen how the youth are more willing to leave behind a life of commodities to take up consecrated life.”
Sister Sania Ho of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary also described the aftereffects, Fides news agency reports. “I am happy that the youth have become more open to the life of the Church after WYD, but they need good spiritual guides, because spiritual formation is fundamental,” Sister Ho said.
“I can say that from experience. My vocation arose from WYD 1997 in Paris. I began thinking about my vocation, thanks to some Spiritual Exercises I did in France, thanks to prayer, and above all, my encounter with the Lord. So, I try to help the youth today, because spiritual life and prayer are what help in discerning a vocation. As a parish and community, we should help them in this sense, in the wake of WYD.”
London, England, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - A Welsh Catholic adoption agency, which has been in operation since 1947, is cutting its ties with the Catholic Church because of new rules that force adoption agencies to consider placing children with homosexual couples.
One adoption agency chief executive described the decision as the “darkest hour in 150 years of Catholic social work in Britain.”
The St. David's Children's Society, which covers the three Welsh dioceses of Cardiff, Menevia and Wrexham, is the oldest adoption agency in Wales and reports it has placed nearly 2,000 children with families over sixty years. In the year ending March 31, 2006, 30 children were adopted through the society, representing 14 percent of all Welsh adoptees that year.
Trustees of the society, which was founded by the Church, argue that if they are to remain in operation they have no choice but to cut their links to the Catholic bishops and become an independent charity to comply with the new Sexual Orientation Regulations of the 2006 Equality Act, the Catholic Herald reports.
Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair had given the charities until January 1 2009 to resolve the situation.
"The situation is one in which really we have to either fully comply with the regulations or to close, St. David’s Children’s Society director Gerry Cooney told the Catholic Herald.
"We are in the process of fully complying with the regulations. That will mean separation from the dioceses. We are aiming to be fully compliant in the near future.
"It is a very sensitive issue and a very difficult issue. The bishops have said that it is a situation not of their making and there have been no easy decisions taken at this time."
The society is the third largest Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales. It will become the fifth to have severed its Church affiliations in the wake of the new regulations.
The Catholic Children's Rescue Society of the Diocese of Salford decided to end its adoption operations in response to the new rules, while the Catholic Children's Society in the Archdiocese of Westminster hopes to remain under Church authority and to challenge the laws in court.
The Father Hudson's Society of the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Nugent Care Society of the Archdiocese of Liverpool also could join in the legal challenge, the Catholic Herald says.
Ann Widdecombe, a Catholic former Tory Minister criticized the new law, which she argued made a crisis “inevitable.”
"It is ludicrous. No one is benefiting from this law. Homosexual couples could already adopt, they just couldn't adopt through Father O'Flaherty. The very difficult placements the Catholic Church was so good at are at risk of being lost and it will be those children who depend most upon this service who are going to suffer."
Widdecombe blamed the Ministers and MPs who supported the regulations. She said the bishops had fought a brave and vigorous public campaign to retain their adoption agencies.
She argued that the government should have granted an exemption to the agencies if it had wanted them to continue their services.
The St. David’s Children’s Society issued a statement on its web site, saying:
“You may have become aware through the media, of the government's intention to implement the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which will have an impact on the Catholic Adoption Agencies. We wish to reassure you that we are still very much in business. As widely documented in the press over recent weeks, our services are very much in demand and are highly valued.
“The Trustees and staff of the Society remain fully committed to providing our full range of adoption services, and in due course will be agreeing the best way forward to ensure that the well being and interests of children, and all our service users remain at the heart of future development plans for the agency. We remain confident about our future."
Atlanta, Ga., Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - Many in our society view money as a “necessary evil.” Instead, entrepreneur and author, Frank Hanna explains, “money is a gift from God that is frequently abused because of our lack of understanding of its proper use.” Based on ancient teachings and his own personal experiences, Hanna clearly lays out the meaning of money in his new book, “What Your Money Means and How to Use It Well.”
Hanna, CEO of Hanna Capital and co-founder of the Solidarity Foundation, explained to CNA that he wrote his latest book because though many great thinkers had discussed money in their teachings, he found that there was not “a systematic treatment of the topic for those of us living in the 21st century.” As he explains, his task is to unfold “this historical philosophical thinking” about money, but to make it “current for today’s reader.”
The book focuses on questions we ask ourselves about money: are we spending it as we should? What does our money mean to us? How much money is enough? In his book, Hanna resolves “to figure out – once and for all – just what it means for us to have money, and what we should be doing with it.”
As Hanna studied the questions, he found that others had been pondering them for centuries. Using this research, along with his personal experiences, he clearly explains how much money is enough, whether it is being spent well, and what having money means.
Instead of lavishly spending the money we’ve been given, Hanna argues that because money is important, “our actions with money should incorporate wisdom, and not just reflexes.”
The Catholic entrepreneur and philanthropist related to CNA that he is afraid that “too many of us are not thoughtful enough in the way we behave with our money. If we understand our money correctly, it becomes a force for good in our lives, rather than a source of anxiety or downfall.”
While money is often associated with greed, or something people need, Hanna believes that wealth can be so much more, even a personal school of virtue.
Hanna describes money as not only important but good. “Money allows our modern economy to work more efficiently,” he explained. However, as with other things, we can develop an unhealthy attachment to it. “Any unhealthy appetite can hurt us, including an unhealthy appetite for money. But that does not mean that money is bad, just as food is not bad, even if some people eat too much of it.”
When asked if money is a “necessary evil,” Hanna asserted that it “is not a necessary evil; instead, money is a gift from God that is frequently abused because of our lack of understanding of its proper use. In this regard, money is like sex, which also is a gift from God that is frequently misused because we don’t always understand its proper role in our lives.”
The easy-to-use layout and superb design of the book have led to critical acclaim from businessmen and Church leaders alike.
Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria University highly recommended the book “to everyone who plans to engage in charitable giving – no matter how much money they have to give."
Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput has described the book as full of wisdom and encouragement – “encouragement to use the resources God gives us for a greater purpose and our own deeper happiness, and not be used or owned by them.”
When asked what he hopes his readers learn from the book, Hanna responded that, “I hope that reading this book allows us to understand the role that money ought to play in our lives, and how we ought to act with regard to our money.” Once we understand this, we will all “live happier lives,” he said.
Hanna’s book is available at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/What-Your-Money-Means-Well/dp/0824525205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222123487&sr=8-1
Vatican City, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - Along with 48 other countries from across Europe, Vatican City will celebrate the annual European Heritage Days by opening the Vatican Museums to the public free of charge, as well as inaugurating a photographic exhibition on catacombs.
This year’s Vatican celebrations will be held on Sunday, September 28 and have as their theme: "European Heritage for Inter-cultural Dialogue."
The Council of Europe created the event to bring Europeans, particularly the young, closer to their cultural heritage. The founders envisioned that this would best be done by opening the doors to historic monuments and buildings to the public, free of charge.
This year, visitors will be able to visit the Vatican Museums and all the catacombs in Rome that are normally open to the public for free on September 28.
Additionally, a photographic exhibition will be inaugurated at the San Callisto Catacombs on the Old Appian Way. The exhibition is entitled "Customs and Grave Goods of Rome in Late Antiquity: Christian, Pagan and Jewish tombs compared," and will remain open until 28 October.
Vatican City, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - This morning the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI will convene the greatly anticipated Synod on the Bible by celebrating Mass at the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on October 5.
According to a communiqué issued by the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope will preside at a Mass at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 5, at the basilica.
The Holy Father will concelebrate the Eucharist with the Synod Fathers for the opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will have as its theme: "Verbum Domini in vita et missione Ecclesiae" (The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church).
Lima, Peru, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, said this week the financial crisis in the United States and the rest of the world is a consequence of the idolatry of money and power.
This idolatry has manifested itself in the network of corrupt officials who were greedy for more and therefore did not properly carry out their roles, Cardinal Cipriani said.
“They adore money and therefore, they engage in deceit. They issued a series of mortgages that had no value, and that, multiplied by millions has led to this flood of fraudulent corruption,” the cardinal said on his weekly radio program.
The cardinal warned that idolizing power and money has reached “very troubling levels in the world.” When money and power are “the only objects of our lives, they end in problems,” he said.
“When there is so much desire for money, it is for power, and when there is a desire for power it is for money. All of this just to impose our subjectivism, arrogance and pride,” the cardinal stated.
In this sense, he pointed out that the financial crisis in the Unites States is not because of “bad loans” but because of corruption by “those who were supposed to oversee mortgages, those who were supposed to handle lending, those who were supposed to be in charge of financial oversight” and who were part of a great “network of corruption.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Ruben Salazar Gomez has issued a statement about the efforts to regulate euthanasia in the country and warned that it is “contrary to ethics and socially disorienting to pass legislation regarding the suppression of innocent human lives.”
Bishop Gomez recalled that “the right to life is a fundamental and universal right” enshrined as inviolable by Colombian’s Constitution. “In the ethical tradition of respect for life, human dignity is invariable: it is not lessened because of illness, suffering, malformation or dementia. Moreover, as experience shows, biological or psychological adversity can be the occasion for further ennoblement,” the bishop stated.
Likewise, he noted that a “natural and serene death is the desirable conclusion for every human life. For this reason, the fight against pain and the voluntary renouncing of useless, disproportionate and overly expensive treatments that would only precariously and sadly prolong one’s existence is perfectly legitimate. It is not licit, however, to interrupt the normal treatment patients in similar cases should receive.”
“Based on these principles born of proper reasoning and enlightened by the Gospel, the Church rejects euthanasia when it involves the decision to anticipate the end of a life that illness or old age seems to have made unbearable, or as an act of deliberately ending the life of a terminally ill person in order to end his or her suffering,” the bishop continued.
“Regardless of whether Congress passes the measure in question or not, we consider at an opportune moment to remind Catholics that not everything that is legally permitted is morally licit,” Bishop Gomez said.
Madrid, Spain, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Spain has condemned the terrorist attack attributed to the Basque separatist group ETA, which took place Monday morning in the town of Santona, claiming the life of one person and leaving 10 others injured. The bishops also expressed their closeness and solidarity with the victims and their family members.
In their statement, the bishops explained that the attack on a military installation in the town of Santona was a “brutal terrorist act” by the Basque separatist group, which also carried out another attack in the Basque region this past weekend, wounding 10 other people.
The bishops reiterated their condemnation of terrorism as a “perverse reality in itself that cannot be justified by appealing to other social ills, real or imagined.” They called terrorism a “structure of sin” that generates “new and serious evils.”
They sent their condolences to the family members of the solider who was killed and to the families of the wounded.
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - A group of pro-life and pro-family experts has warned that the upcoming summit “Youth and Development,” which will be held in El Salvador in October, will promote so-called “sexual and reproductive rights,” contraception, gender ideology, abortion, and a frontal attack on the family and the rights of parents to educate their children according to their convictions.
In an article entitled, “A Latin American summit to create “empty men’,” Raul Espinoza Aguilera of Mexico explained that the October 29 summit will bring together the presidents of Latin America. He warned that the preparatory document encourages Latin American countries to import Spain’s controversial “Citizen Education” course which aims to “replace parental authority” with the state’s ideology.
Likewise, he stressed, the summit will promote “reproductive sexual health” and “gender ideology, that is, abortion, abortifacient pills, homosexuality, sterilizations and other artificial methods of birth control. The entire context of this document is intended to have diverse international organizations impose anti-life tactics on Latin America, in a sort of new ‘colonialism’ of ideological subjugation of the so-called Third World countries by rich countries.” “Only now the idea is that the leaders of the continent sign a document that officially endorses such policies,” Aguilera warned.
He went on to note that the preparatory document shows particularly scorn for women and maternity and does not take into account that “the fullness of womanhood is experienced in being a mother, and that they have an irreplaceable role that no social institution can replace: that of educating the women and men of today’s society and that of tomorrow. Without the educational role of parents, children and young people would not have an adequate formation,” Aguilera stressed.
Washington D.C., Sep 23, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali, the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has written a letter to the U.S. Congress to alert them that the Freedom of Choice Act would undermine bipartisan efforts to reduce abortions and make abortion on demand a "national entitlement."
Writing to all members of Congress on September 19, Cardinal Rigali warned that the enactment of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would “deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry.”
“Despite its deceptive title,” he wrote, “FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. And FOCA would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government to reduce abortions in our country.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who introduced the bill, saw the legislation differently, describing it as being about “the absolute right to choose” prior to fetal “viability." Some supporters of the bill additionally argue that it would simply codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
However, Cardinal Rigali noted that other backers of FOCA say it “would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.” These include bans on public funding of abortions as well as “modest and widely supported state laws” protecting women’s safety, informed consent and parental rights, he stressed.
Further, the cardinal from Philadelphia claimed that under FOCA “abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.”
FOCA, the cardinal said, would militate against the work of members of both parties who have “sought to reach a consensus on ways to reduce abortions in our society.”
Even though the Catholic Church disagrees with programs that help reduce abortion by means of contraception, Cardinal Rigali stated in his letter that, “there is one thing absolutely everyone should be able to agree on: We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion…. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”
FOCA finds Sen. Barack Obama in the midst of a major contradiction. While the Act lists him as a co-sponsor, this is directly contradicted by his presently stated position of desiring to reduce abortions.
Obama’s support for the bill is not just legislative either. On July 17, 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
Sen. John McCain has not taken a position on FOCA, but both Deal Hudson and Fr. Frank Pavone have told CNA that they strongly believe McCain would veto the bill.
Cardinal Rigali closed his open letter by urging all members of Congress “to pledge their opposition to FOCA and other legislation designed to promote abortion,” so that “we can begin a serious and sincere discussion on how to reduce the tragic incidence of abortion in our society.”
The full text of Cardinal Rigali’s letter can be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCArigaliltr.pdf.
A legal analysis of FOCA from the USCCB can be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCAanalysis.pdf.