Vatican City, Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - At the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI received a new ambassador from Taiwan and welcomed the recent "positive developments" in relations between mainland China and Taiwan.
The Pope began his English-language remarks to the Ambassador Wang Larry Yu-yuan by asking him to relay his congratulations to Taiwan’s first Catholic president, Ma Ying-jeou, who was sworn into office on May 20, 2008.
Pope Benedict went on to praise the "Government in Taipei" for its "keen sense of belonging to a world community, a global human family," which he said the Taiwanese people demonstrate through their willingness to help those in need, especially poorer nations.
Sizing up the Catholic community in Taiwan, Benedict XVI remarked that although Catholics "represent little more than one per cent of the population, they are eager to play their part in building up a society that is humane, just, and marked by genuine concern for the welfare of the weaker members of the community."
The Holy Father also extolled Taiwan for its "firm commitment to freedom of religion," which allows the Church to "carry out her mission of love and service, and to express herself openly through worship and the proclamation of the Gospel."
Due to the "'innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom,' of Asian people, the Pope said that "there is great religious vitality and capacity for renewal" and that consequently the possibility for inter-religious dialogue to "take root and grow" is very good.
Pope Benedict also encouraged the process of dialogue between mainland China and Taiwan, which have fought over the independence of Taiwan for decades. "Frank and constructive dialogue is also the key to the resolution of the conflicts that threaten the stability of our world," he said.
Referencing the recent visit of Chen Yunlin, China's top negotiator on Taiwan affairs, to Taiwan, the Holy Father said that "the Holy See welcomes the recent positive developments in relations between Taiwan and mainland China." The meeting between Chen and Taiwanese President Ma concluded with new deals on trade and transportation links between the two countries.
"Indeed the Catholic Church is eager to promote peaceful solutions to disputes of whatever kind, 'giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation'. In this way, she wishes to support the efforts of governments to become 'staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace'," the Pope told the new ambassador.
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict met with participants in a congress titled, “The Heritage of Pius XII's Magisterium and Vatican Council II.” During the event, the Pontiff called to mind Pius XII’s teachings, his relationship with Christ, and his influence on the Church.
The conference was held from November 6-8 and organized by the Pontifical Gregorian and Lateran Universities, and came to a close with Pope Benedict’s remarks on the impact Pius XII had on the Church through his writings and teachings.
Pope Benedict XVI explained that along with his 40 encyclicals, the late Pontiff spoke of the “responsibility of the laity within the Church” and “the great importance of the modern communications media,” especially “journalists' duty to provide factual information respectful of moral norms."
Pius XII also warned against the progress of science impacting morality, the Holy Father pointed out. Though he was a great admirer of technology, he never failed to “caution against the risks that research could bring if inattentive to moral values," and "warned of the need to prevent at all costs the possibility of brilliant scientific advances being used to build deadly arms which could cause immense catastrophes and even the complete destruction of mankind."
Benedict XVI continued to address the congress by focusing on Pius XII’s teachings on Mary. The words of Pius XII reached their culmination “in the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, by which the Holy Father intended to highlight the eschatological dimension of our lives, and to exalt the dignity of women."
Turning to focus on Pius XII’s personality and spirituality, Benedict XVI noted that the late Pope was a realist who desired “to give all of himself to God, holding nothing back and unconcerned for his own delicate health.” “Everything in him arose from love for his Lord Jesus Christ, and love for the Church and humanity. He was, in fact, a priest in constant and intimate union with God,” Benedict said.
“In the person of the Supreme Pontiff Pius XII, the Lord gave His Church an exceptional gift for which we must all be grateful,” the Holy Father concluded.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said last week that a understanding of marriage “in which sexual differences do not play a role goes against not only Christian civilization but against practically all civilizations.”
In an interview on COPE Radio, the cardinal said a referendum on the issue of marriage between one man and one woman, such as the one that took place in California, before the introduction of homosexual unions in Spain “would have been good.”
Such a vote would have given Spaniards the chance to express their will about this important issue, he said.
He called on Spaniards to build up the family, as the country has the highest divorce rate in Europe, “which is an issue that is vital both for Spain and for Europe.”
“For a long time there has not been an awareness among political leaders, cultural leaders or those who influence public opinion that this is a problem with very serious short-term and long-term consequences,” he added.
“The first effect we are noticing is the demographic sinking of Europe,” the cardinal stated.
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - John Paul II’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, said last week that the late Pontiff become more devoted to Our Lady of Fatima after the attempt on his life of May 13, 1981, as he was convinced her intercession saved him.
“Before the attempt, (John Paul II) did not devote much time to the message of Fatima, but he certainly had visited the Shrine and knew about the devotion to our Lady that is very widespread throughout the world,” the cardinal said during a visit to Portugal.
“After the attempt on his life in St. Peter’s Square,” he continued, the Pope’s attitude changed. “He became convinced that Our Lady of Fatima saved him, and he entered into the secret of the message of Fatima,” he said.
Cardinal Dziwisz said that he and the Pope often discussed Portugal and that the Pontiff felt close to the Portuguese people especially each May 13 and October 13, when he would appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s Square to pray and sing the Ave Maria.
“I very much remember the three visits the Pope made to Portugal,” the cardinal said, “and I’ll never forget when he came to thank Our Lady of Fatima for his life.”
John Paul II also had great admiration for “the devotion, prayer and ability to sacrifice of the devotees of Fatima,” he added.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Chicago Francis George, speaking as the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), on Monday lamented the fact that Catholics cannot be considered “full partners” in public life unless they put aside “fundamental Catholic teachings” on abortion and other beliefs about a “just moral and political order.”
Praising the social advancement that allows a man like Barack Obama to become president, the cardinal said we must pray he succeeds in his task and remember that Catholics “who took our social doctrine to heart” in combating racism can feel vindicated by his accomplishment.
According to the cardinal, Obama was not asked to renounce his racial heritage to become president. He contrasted this with President John F. Kennedy, who effectively “was asked to promise that his Catholic faith would not influence his perspective and decisions as president a generation ago.”
That debate continues, the cardinal claimed, in the words of those who “reject universal moral propositions that have been espoused by the human race throughout history, with the excuse that they are part of Catholic moral teaching.”
Decrying the fact that some Catholics must put aside Catholic teachings in order to be considered full partners in American life, Cardinal George singled out the issue of Catholic opposition to abortion.
“The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice… common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good,” he said to sustained applause from the bishops.
Cardinal George described attitudes that demand Catholics be silent about their beliefs as “hubris that has isolated our country politically and now economically.” This blinding pride “is heard, but not usually recognized, in moral arguments based simply and solely on individual moral autonomy,” he said.
Addressing the issue of how the Church fits into society, the cardinal president said, “The Church and her life and teaching do not fit easily into the prior narratives that shape our public discussions,” adding that those who impose their own agenda on the Church, whether left- or right-wing, “betray the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Cardinal George also seemed to encourage the way that scores of bishops spoke out in defense of the faith prior to the presidential election.
“As we all know, the church was born without episcopal conferences, as she was born without parishes and without dioceses, although all these structures have been helpful pastorally throughout the centuries,” he said.
“The church was born only with shepherds, with apostolic pastors, whose relationship to their people keeps them one with Christ, from whom comes authority to govern the church,” he remarked.
Cardinal George also had some words for Catholic politicians who were the particular focus of the debate over the Church’s acceptance in the public square. “We respect you and we love you, and we pray that the Catholic faith will shape your decisions so that our communion may be full.”
Saying the bishops face “enormous challenges,” he joked that bishops at their consecration should be given “not crosiers but mops!”
Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with the Colombian daily “El Tiempo” on the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin said that it is still possible to dialogue with rebels in the country, because each one of them is a unique person that has their "own story and heart.”
The archbishop went on to state that “when one loses the faith, he loses reason. If you don’t see others as made in the image and likeness of God, you begin to use them, if they can get you money, if you can abuse them, and this is what has happened to us in Colombia.”
Archbishop Jaramillo also noted the difference between moral misery and material misery, saying the former is much worse, because the person loses his reason for existing. “If life is not worth living, then what am I living for? That is moral misery,” he said.
Asked about the challenge of trying reach out to the victims of the violence in Colombia, Archbishop Jaramillo said, “I must bring hope, and knowing how to bring it is a challenge for me, an old man who has been a priest for 50 years. For this reason, I think this time has helped me find the meaning of hope,” he said.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - Early on Monday afternoon, Cardinal Francis George held a press conference where he spoke about how the U.S. bishops will engage President-elect Barack Obama’s administration and provided his analysis of the bishops’ efforts to inform Catholic voters during the election.
“Mr. Obama will be the president of the United States and of course we will do our best to help him in a formidable task,” Cardinal George said to reporters.
Along with informing the future President Obama of how the bishops can help him, Cardinal George also stated that “as we have with every president, we will indicate the areas where there is disagreement and find out if there is some possibility in dialogue of coming to procedurally a resolution that does not exclude Catholics from public life…”
The president of the U.S. Bishops also responded to a question about the effectiveness of numerous U.S. bishops’ efforts to educate Catholics on the importance of considering a politician’s stance on abortion when voting.
When asked about the bishops’ document Faithful Citizenship, Cardinal George noted that the document provided principles, but did not tell Catholics how to vote. He characterized the statement as good and “nuanced where it should be,” but also pointed out that the “nuances were sometimes lost when different groups took different parts of it—as often happens—and stressed one part or the other.”
Cardinal George also expressed his view that the election of Barack Obama as president was not a vote on the values being debated in the election, but was really a vote to rescue the economy.
“How I personally think about this last election is that it’s 1932 revisited,” he said referring to the election between President Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“We have incumbent Republican president; a deep recession, if not a depression has begun, and once again the American voters have turned to another party to try to lift the country out of the present enormous economic difficulties.”
“I would agree that the economy is the foremost challenge. … The value questions are still there. The referenda on the nature of marriage was very clear in several states. … But the overall election, it seems to me, means that the American people are hoping for a government that will help them through the present economic debacle and that it will come from the Democratic Party,” he stated.
Cardinal George also commented on the status of Catholics in American society, which he said needs to change just as it has changed for blacks.
In well-received remarks made earlier on Monday to the entire assembly of bishops, the cardinal president said that “we’re not a point when Catholics can be considered full partners in the American experience unless their willing to put aside some fundamental Catholic teachings.”
“I’ve felt that for a long time.” Cardinal George said at the press conference. “And of course, the status keeps changing and it will change in the future and we’ll see in what direction that change goes.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - Supporters of California’s Proposition 8 are reporting harassment and even violent assaults from opponents protesting the passage of the ballot proposal which rescinded a California Supreme Court decision that imposed same-sex marriage on the state. Homosexual activists have held large protests at Mormon temples and Catholic churches, deriding their opponents as hateful.
Paul Bishop, a Los Angeles Police Department supervisor reported on the election aftermath in Meridian, a magazine for members of the Latter-Day Saint Church, who are also known as Mormons.
Bishop told how he, as a private citizen, had attended rallies in support of Proposition 8. While both supporters and opponents of the measure honked their horns, he wrote, “the way to tell the difference is the No On 8 supporters usually accompanied their horn honking with an obscene gesture or a string of obscenities. They also liked to swerve their cars toward the children on the curb.”
He noted that several of his ward members had received hate mail after their names, religious affiliation, contribution amounts, and addresses were published on a web site inciting Proposition 8 opponents to target the individuals listed.
“Their houses and cars had been vandalized, their campaign support signs stolen, and opposition signs planted in their place,” Bishop wrote.
Los Angeles police were deployed to keep the peace at an anti-Proposition 8 protest held last Thursday at the city’s LDS temple, where protesters were rushing the gates.
Bishop reported hearing an officer in the department’s Operations-West Bureau command post say in reaction to the protesters’ action “I hope they burn that place to the ground.”
Another officer reportedly replied, claiming “the Mormons have an army in a bunker under the temple that will come out and kill them all.”
According to Bishop, some of the 2,500 protesters at the LDS Temple bore signs reading “Separation of Church and Hate” and “Mormon haters.” Some signs were left on the temple walls.
“The late local news showed scenes of several Hispanic females in tears outside the temple trying to remove the signs desecrating the walls and fences surrounding the temple. As these individuals – who according to a temple spokesperson were not church members – removed the hate-filled signs, the mob exploded and began beating the individuals to the ground,” Bishop wrote in Meridian. “Police intervened and arrests were made, but the fact this was allowed to happen at all was appalling.”
Another protest at an Oakland temple on Sunday prompted officials to shut down nearby freeway off-ramps for over three hours, the Oakland Tribune reports.
"The time has come to take it out there to the people who voted for this awful thing," said San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty. "The Mormon church has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their beliefs."…This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they've forgotten some lessons."
Another 2,500 protesters gathered at the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento.
In downtown Los Angeles about 150 protesters gathered before the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels chanting “What would Jesus say?” The Los Angeles Times reports they were later joined by protesters who marched from Lincoln Park.
Hundreds of Proposition 8 opponents in Orange County also protested near Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.
On Sunday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, predicting that the 18,000 same-sex marriages already contracted in the state would not be nullified.
"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," Schwarzenegger said in a CNN interview Sunday. "I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."
Manassas, Va., Nov 10, 2008 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) is claiming that several outspoken professors and political activities on Catholic university campuses helped Sen. Barack Obama win the Catholic vote.
Citing exit polls showing Obama’s capture of 54 percent of the Catholic vote and his inroads among Mass-attending and white Catholics, the Cardinal Newman Society’s report voices concern that prominent Catholic educators and schools helped elect the pro-abortion rights President-elect Obama.
In particular, the CNS report claims Boston College theology professor Lisa Sowle Cahill, Duquesne law professor Nicholas Cafardi and Notre Dame theology professor Cathleen Kaveny “publicly challenged” bishops’ statements encouraging Catholics to oppose pro-abortion rights candidates.
Nine professors at Catholic colleges and universities served on Obama's Catholic National Advisory Committee.
Xavier University in Cincinnati hosted an Obama "Campaign for Change" rally on the eve of Election Day, while St. Peter's College in New Jersey hosted an Obama rally featuring a choir of Catholic schoolchildren.
The Cardinal Newman Society also notes that several Catholic colleges and universities have selected pro-abortion politicians as commencement speakers and honorees.
In 2004 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ruled that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” the society pointed out.