Konigstein, Germany, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy See has named Chilean priest Father Joaquin Alliende-Luco the new leader of Aid to the Church in Need.
Father Alliende-Luco, a member of the Schoenstatt movement, was the International Ecclesiastic Assistant for ACN since 1999, and since 1978, he has been a consulter for theological issues as a member of the ACN’s General Council.
Father Joaquín Alliende-Luco was born in Santiago, Chile, and was ordained a priest in 1961. He has also participated as an expert theologian in the preparations for the last three General Conferences of the Latin American Bishops’ Council.
ACN said he is known “not only as a theologian, but also as a poet. He has published more than ten volumes of poetry and has written several Mass booklets for orchestras and cantatas. For World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, he composed a musical entitled Pelican – In Your Hands, about the martyrs of the 20th century.”
The former president of ACN, Swiss Father Hans-Peter Rothlin, ended his three-year term of service and explained that the new president would continue carrying on the organization’s mission in unity and creative fidelity to the founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten, who died in 2003.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - The organizing committee of the Fifth World Meeting of Families said this week during a press conference that rural and indigenous families in Mexico who do not have access to the internet will also be able to have their family photos included in the mosaic that will be presented to Pope Benedict XVI during the event.
Msgr. Enrique Glennie Graue, executive secretary general of the Meeting, said the worldwide response to the call to send in family portraits has been “surprising.” The pictures will be put together to form an image of Pope Benedict XVI.
Under the theme, “The Pope wants to meet your family,” organizers are seeking to collect some seven thousand photos in digital format. Some 1,200 have been sent in so far from 42 countries. Instructions on how to submit a photo can be found at: http://www.mosaicodelasfamilias.com/
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, slammed lawmakers in the state of Jalisco for ignoring a grassroots initiative supported by 53,000 signatures that calls for the protection of the unborn, when they decided to postpone debate on the measure until next year.
“I’m not a lawyer but it is wrong for lawmakers to decide” on their own to table discussion on an issue that is supported by more than 53,000 signatures, the cardinal said.
“They are acting with a double standard, because they say they are not in favor of abortion, but they don’t want to say that they are against it either,” he said.
“Lawmakers have kidnapped democracy” with such an attitude, the cardinal continued. “It’s obvious they want to light one candle for God and another for the devil. Most of them are Catholic and they want to stay in good graces with those here in Mexico, just in case, and they don’t want to say no to life, but they don’t want to say yes either,” he said.
The cardinal said that if “Mexicans for the Lives of All,” the group promoting the measure, finds a legal way to pressure lawmakers, he will support them.
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - On Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, with Pope Benedict present, several Church fathers offered their input to the ongoing synod on the Bible. Among them were the president of the Council on the Family, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts.
Addressing the assembly, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli spoke about the need to incorporate the Word of God into the lives of families. The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family recommended that families make the Bible a part of their lives by following "the liturgical year by means of the daily Gospel, or at least the Sunday Gospel, highlighting a phrase to remember or to live during the day or throughout the week."
Indeed, the cardinal noted, "It does not take much time: just a few minutes are sufficient for praying and listening together, for making a shared commitment to enact in daily activities and relationships and to recall at the right moment in spontaneous family dialogue. If one hears the Word only once a week, it may be for a longer period and may constitute a preparation or a continuation and application of the Sunday parish Mass."
Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, who heads the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts, also spoke to the bishops on Thursday afternoon. In his brief comments, the prelate touched on how canon law does not emphasize the need for priests to meditate on the Scriptures in personal prayer. He suggested that the Canon 276 could be revisited to provide a fuller description of the expression, "they are exhorted to engage regularly in mental prayer."
On Friday morning, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, offered his perspective on how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects Arab Christians’ reading of the Bible.
"The Israel-Palestinian conflict creates problems in reading and understanding certain passages of the Bible," Archbishop Twal said. "Thus, Arab Christians, in general, often find difficulties in reading the Old Testament, not because of the Word of God, but because of the political and ideological interpretations."
The Latin Patriarch offered two principles that protect us from political and ideological interpretations. First, he said, Christians should "read and interpret the Word of God in the light of Christ. Jesus said: 'Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them'. Christ took back and summarized all categories of the Old Testament in Himself, to give them new impulse and new meaning (He 'fulfilled' them). The Old Testament is read and understood in Him and through Him."
"The second principle for interpretation is the Church," Archbishop Twal explained. "Any interpretation outside the Church is a dangerous one," he concluded.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - Pablo is one of the one hundred Argentinean young people who stood outside the Cathedral of Neuquen on August 17 to shield the church from protests by feminists who want abortion to be legalized.
Thousands of people have been moved by a video of the young people posted on CNA’s YouTube channel, which shows the ferocity of the confrontation by the feminists who were gathered for the National Encounter of Women in Neuquen. They shouted insults and threw objects at the young people who were shielding the Cathedral.
One of the young people at the Cathedral was 21 year-old Pablo, who was interviewed by Javier Tebas of the website ReligionEnLibertad.com and revealed details about what happened that afternoon.
“Everything lasted more or less an hour and forty minutes. It was terrible. They wouldn’t go away. They screamed at us, they spat on us, they threw cans and rocks, they tore up an Argentinean flag and burned it. We were only praying one Hail Mary after another, without stopping, praying for each one of them, praying for each aborted child, praying for our Church and her pastors, and also in reparation for the blasphemies,” Pablo said.
Despite the tension, “we felt an extraordinary peace, and all of us who were there agreed [it was] a peace that cannot come from anyone else besides our Lord and God. We felt his consolation in our souls.”
Asked if they felt tempted to respond to the aggressions with violence, Pablo responded that all the young people came with the intention of “resisting to the last drop of our blood. Some guys up in front became very upset, because they insulted the Virgin Mary, calling her a lesbian. You feel like doing everything, but we know that our testimony needs to be different, and the virtue of fortitude is more perfect when we resist than when we attack.”
According to Pablo, after that experience in Neuquen, the young people were more committed to “living life as it truly is: a battle, a war.” “I think it is time to wake up, we must be aware that if we don’t do it, nobody will. Nobody will bear witness to hope if we Catholics do not do it. The world is waiting, the world expects that we go out to find it and conquer it.”
The video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp0oMKGFTyk .
Hartford, Conn., Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of Connecticut, in a 4 to 3 decision, ruled on Friday that homosexual couples have the right to marry. In response, the Connecticut Catholic Conference said the decision creates an “inevitable conflict between people of faith, the natural law and the authority of the State” and called for a Constitutional Convention to overturn the decision.
The Connecticut court’s ruling marks the first time a state that had willingly offered an alternative to marriage was instructed by a court that civil unions aren’t enough to protect the rights of same-sex couples, the Associated Press reports.
Justice Richard N. Palmer, writing for the majority, argued that denying marriage to same-sex couples would create separate standards.
"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice," he wrote.
The three dissenting justices issued separate opinions.
Justice Peter T. Zarella argued that there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage. He accused the majority decision of failing to discuss the purpose of marriage laws, which he said is “to privilege and regulate procreative conduct."
“The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry,” Justice Zarella continued. “If the state no longer has an interest in the regulation of procreation, then that is a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and not this court.”
The decision was decried elsewhere.
"Even the legislature, as liberal as ours, decided that marriage is between a man and a woman," said Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut. "This is about our right to govern ourselves. It is bigger than gay marriage."
Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, reacted to the ruling by saying that she disagreed with it, but that “The Supreme Court has spoken.”
“I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision -- either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution -- will not meet with success."
Attorney General Richard Blumethal said the ruling will go into effect on Oct. 28, when it is implemented by action of the Superior Court. According to the Associated Press, he said there will be no appeal.
House Speaker Jim Amann, a Democrat, said he expects the issue to be taken up by the state’s General Assembly.
The lawsuit was filed in 2004 after eight same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses. The couples then sued the state alleging the violation of their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.
The state’s marriage law, they claimed, denied them the financial, social and emotional benefits of marriage.
Courts in Massachusetts and California have also instituted same-sex marriage, though California voters could repeal it through an initiative in the November election. Both courts claimed that domestic partnerships were unequal to the rights given to heterosexual marriage.
Michael Culhane, Executive Director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference (CCC), told CNA in a Friday phone interview that the decision “essentially mandates same-sex marriage.”
He explained the decision had been argued on May 14, 2007.
“Here we are a year and a half later and decision just came down,” he added.
Culhane said that, in his tentative opinion, the decision is based on the Connecticut constitution and therefore the decision as written is “final.”
However, he added that the CCC is still analyzing the decision.
A Friday statement from the CCC said both the CCC and the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut are “extremely disappointed” in the decision, charging that it “imposes” the recognition of same-sex marriage upon the people of Connecticut.
“This decision is in direct conflict with the position of our state legislature and courts of other states and is a terribly regrettable exercise in judicial activism,” they stated.
Furthermore, the bishops and the Catholic Conference argued that “Four people have not just extended a supposed civil right to a particular class of individuals, but have chosen to redefine the institution of marriage.”
The CCC said that, excepting Massachusetts and California, other states have ruled that marriage is a “special institution” and did not choose to redefine it.
“It appears our State Supreme Court has forgotten that courts should interpret laws and legislatures should make laws,” the CCC statement alleged.
The CCC favorably cited Justice Zarella’s dissenting opinion, adding, “The majority utterly failed to consider the relationship between the laws of marriage and family.”
“The Supreme Court of Connecticut has chosen to ignore the wisdom of our elected officials, the will of the people, and historical social and religious traditions spanning thousands of years by imposing a social experiment upon the people of our state,” the CCC remarked.
The decision by the Supreme Court also raises a “very real concern” about the infringement on religious liberty and freedom of speech, the conference asserted.
The real battle in the court case was not about rights being denied but about “conferring and enforcing social acceptance of a particular lifestyle; a lifestyle many people of faith and advocates of the natural law refuse to accept.”
“This ruling creates an inevitable conflict between people of faith, the natural law and the authority of the State,” the CCC said, calling for people to vote for a Constitutional Convention and the right of referendum on Election Day.
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - In an editorial, the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano, reaffirmed on Wednesday the heroic and decisive work of Pope Pius XII to save Jews during World War II, rejected the accusations that the Pontiff ignored the Holocaust, and called such claims “black legends” unsupported by history.
The editorial was published two days after Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen of Haifa spoke at the Synod of Bishops asking for the suspension of the cause of beatification of Pius XII, and one day after the 50th anniversary of the late Pontiff’s death.
“Pius XII was a man of peace, who did the best he could during one of the most violent periods of history,” the editorial said. “He confronted the tragedy of that time of war like no other leader did. Even when he faced the monstrous persecution of the Jews, he worked in silent suffering, which is understandable, with the objective of making an efficient effort of charity and undeniable help.”
The editorial went on to explain that Pius XII worked silently behind the scenes to help the Jews, since more direct intervention would have made the situation worse. It also denounced “the black legend about the Pope, which was insensitive to the Shoah (the Hebrew word for the Holocaust) and even pro-Nazi.” Such accusations were “inconsistent from the historical point of view,” it said.
Havana, Cuba, Oct 10, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, has denounced the aggression against Cuban prisoner of conscience Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, who has been placed in solitary confinement and denied all communication with his family.
In a press release, Paya explained that Ferrer, who is also a member of the CLM and a founder of the Varela Project, was “condemned in April of 2003 to 28 years in prison. He is currently confined to the Mar Verde prison in Santiago de Cuba.”
Likewise, he said, “since last Thursday, Luis Enrique has been in solitary confinement and has been denied the right to communicate via telephone with his family, something that he was able to do a few minutes per week before.”
After revealing that “the prison guards threatened to dress him in a prisoner’s suit in order to provoke him, as the majority of the prisoners wear civil dress or true rags due to the calamitous conditions in which they are held,” Paya underscored that “Luis Enrique Ferrer has a skin infection that has persisted for months and is now affecting parts of his head.”
The guards, “under the direction of State Security,” Paya continued, “harass and molest him constantly under diverse pretexts, in a true psychological war in the midst of the inhumane conditions of the prison.”
Lastly, Paya said that Ferrer “cannot eat the concentration camp-like rations he is being given as food in the prison due to stomach ailments, and therefore he was only eating what his family was bringing him. The family is only allowed to visit and give him food every two months.”