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Archive of December 5, 2008

Prayer service to remember Nebraska mall shooting victims

Omaha, Neb., Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - One year after the shootings at an Omaha mall, the community is holding a prayer service to remember the eight victims and their families.

 

On December 5, 2007, eight people were fatally shot by 19-year-old Robert Hawkins inside the Von Maur department store at Westroads Mall.  Hawkins then killed himself.

 

The prayer service will take place today at 7:30 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Church in Omaha. Father Harry Buse, pastor, will preside at the prayer service, which will include Scripture readings, a homily and reflection time.

 

"Last year when it happened, we had a prayer service the day after and we just wanted to do something to continue to remember to pray for those people and pray for healing in the city," said Sister Ann Marie Petrylka, OSM, coordinator of the prayer service and pastoral minister at the parish.

 

Westroads Mall is located just blocks away from the church, so it is considered to be within the parish boundaries, she said.

 

The families of the victims are invited to attend, Sister Petrylka said.

 

Kellie Schlecht, sister of victim Dianne Trent, said she and several members of her family plan to attend the prayer service. They also will attend a Von Maur-sponsored breakfast and a 1 p.m. memorial service on the south steps of the store that same day.

"People have been wonderful. Omaha is a very small world," she said, noting she continues to receive sympathy cards. "It was such a big deal, such a horrible incident that happened last year that everybody was impacted. Everybody feels our pain."

 

Printed with permission from the Catholic Voice, newspaper from the Archdiocese of Omaha.

 

 

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Gonzaga president defends rejection of ‘negative’ pro-life campus paper insert

Spokane, Wash., Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - Gonzaga University President Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, has issued a statement explaining the Gonzaga student newspaper’s rejection of a pro-life group’s insert and its decision to publish an alternative pro-life insert written by the university’s Office of Mission.

The Gonzaga Bulletin student newspaper had rejected the Human Life Alliance’s advertising insert “We Know Better Now.”

The 12-page insert has a flashy, professional design with many full-color photographs and colorful stylistic changes marking different topics.

After listing national pregnancy center resources and national organizations which help those recovering from the effects of an abortion, the insert vigorously argues for the pro-life position.

“We’ve been lied to,” the insert says on its first page, arguing that it is now better known that abortion kills a human being, that it hurts women, and that abortion has a “racist legacy.”

On its second page, titled “Words Can Be Deceptive,” the insert refutes common arguments in favor of abortion, such as invocations of “the freedom to choose,” the claims that every child should be “wanted,” and the focus upon cases such as rape, incest, and fetal deformity.

“The term ‘pro-choice’ avoids talking about what you’re choosing,” the insert comments.

The insert presents three personal stories from a woman who obtained an abortion, a man who helped procure several abortions for his ex-wife, and a woman who almost had an abortion but was thankful she was turned away by the abortionist.

A full-page color cartoon strip depicts the “true story” of a woman who cannot justify having an abortion but instead gives her child up for adoption. Former abortionists and clinic staff workers are also quoted in the insert, alongside short articles on the long-term effects of abortion, fetal development and biology, and abortion methods.

Describing the Vacuum Aspiration method, the insert reads:

“In this first trimester procedure, the abortionist inserts a hollow plastic suction tube into the dilated cervix. The uterus is emptied by either a manual syringe or high-powered suction machine. The baby’s body is torn into pieces as he or she is being pulled through the hose.”

The insert closes with a full page of a calculator bearing the slogan “Some things don’t add up.”

Gonzaga president Father Spitzer commented on the student newspaper’s rejection of the “We Know Better Now” insert.

“I share with many people around the world a concern for the unborn, and for the sanctity of human life. Gonzaga University has always supported the pro-life movement,” Father Spitzer said in a Thursday statement.

He explained that the advertisement was rejected “not from any disagreement with the pro-life cause, but out of a preference to emphasize a positive pro-life message rather than a negative one.”

He did not detail what negative messages he believed to be emphasized in the Human Life Alliance’s insert.

Father Spitzer announced that last week the Gonzaga pamphlet “Standing for the Unborn” was distributed in The Gonzaga Bulletin. He noted that the publication has been included in the Bulletin in the past.

In contrast with the insert “We Know Better Now,” “Standing for the Unborn” appears bland, using as colors only black and several shades of blue.

The Jesuits’ 16-page pamphlet opens with a list of phone numbers for local pregnancy and family service centers, university ministry, and Catholic Charities. It then includes a prayer that God “Awaken in every heart reverence for the work of your hands, and renew among your people a readiness to nurture and sustain your precious gift of life.”

Calling abortion a “delicate and controversial topic,” the Jesuits’ pamphlet emphasizes “the correctness of Catholic Church teaching regarding abortion, joining with many other people of conscience who are working to protect life in the womb, and who are seeking an end to abortion so as to restore our country’s respect for the core human value of the right to life.”

The 2003 pamphlet, written in the 30th anniversary year of the Roe v. Wade decision, states “more than 39 million American lives have been ended by abortion. Among all the justice issues we as a society should view with grave concern, abortion is a key social evil.”

Emphasizing that abortion is a human rights issue, the pamphlet rebukes framing the issue “as merely a question of personal preference or private choice.” Saying it is “critical to pay attention to ‘how’ our defense of abortion proceeds,” it urges that dialogue “should never devolve into a shrill clash of shouts, much less threats of violence.”

Another section of the pamphlet discusses the Jesuit tradition of respect for life.

“There can be no service of faith without the promotion of justice,” it reads. “Jesuits, therefore, must seek an end to the injustice of abortion.”

Noting the “tremendous pressure” some pregnant women face, the pamphlet states that abortion is an indication many women are not receiving the support they need. It also acknowledges that “horrible trauma and regret often haunt participants in the aftermath of abortion.”

The Jesuit emphasis on freedom is also discussed: “All too often in abortion debates, ‘liberty’ and ‘choice’ devolve into code-words for utter freedom to terminate a pregnancy without limits or conditions.”

Turning to a consideration of how to speak about abortion in a pluralistic society, saying the Jesuits “would naturally prefer to live in a country where every citizen, voter, and court consistently favor legal recognition of and protection for the unborn.” However, discussion and persuasion on the issue must recognize that phrases like “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have “contested meanings that others understand differently than we do.”

People should respond to this difference by “engaging those who initially disagree with us on some issues, seeking to create an acceptable consensus wherever possible by building upon those truths on which we can reach agreement, while continuing to educate and persuade those who disagree with our convictions.”

“We must listen respectfully to others’ opinions, just as we expect a fair hearing of our own arguments against abortion. Our confidence in the persuasive power of well-articulated defenses of pro-life positions sustains us, even as we acknowledge the long struggle ahead,” the pamphlet continues.

In comparison to the Human Life Alliance’s insert, the Jesuits’ pamphlet includes very few direct arguments countering the common claims of abortion proponents and rarely directly addresses those who might be tempted to obtain an abortion.

However, the pamphlet closes with reports on how students at Jesuit schools are “standing up for life.”

Father Spitzer’s statement on the pamphlet closed by saying:

“I would like to again reaffirm Gonzaga University's commitment to the pro-life movement, in which I have been personally involved for 24 years.”

“God bless you all for your efforts in protecting the culture of life.”

The Human Life Alliance’s insert is located at http://www.humanlife.org/publications/wkbn.pdf 

The Jesuits’ pamphlet is located at  http://www.gonzaga.edu/News-and- Events/pdf/pamphlet.pdf

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Bishop still waiting on hospital to confirm end to direct sterilizations

Tyler, Texas, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - Alvaro Corrada, the Bishop of Tyler, Texas, has issued another statement on Catholic medical ethics and the dignity of human life in response to revelations that Catholic hospitals were performing unethical sterilizations. According to Bishop Corrada, he is still waiting from Trinity Mother Francis Hospital to state that they are no longer performing sterilizations.

Bishop Corrada’s statement begins with a quotation from Isaiah, “Would that you might meet us doing right” (Is 64:4).

The bishop then described “two serious threats” to the authentic witness to the Gospel and human dignity in East Texas. As the first threat, he named the practice of direct sterilization in some national Catholic hospitals. The second threat, he said, was the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which he said would “deny the freedom of conscience of health care workers and institutions to refrain from participating in medical procedures contrary to human dignity.”

He reminded Catholics of their duty to defend human dignity, an obligation which “cannot be altered by appeals to erroneous theological opinions or unjust legislation.”

“I call upon every Catholic to act in defense of human dignity with a conscience formed in accord with the Gospel and request that that they contact their legislators to support freedom of conscience for those providing health,” he wrote.

Bishop Corrada then gave reasons abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia should be prohibited in ethical medical practice.

Saying all people, especially those in the medical professions, are bound to honor and protect the human body, he said “The purpose of health care is to heal and, above all, to do no harm.”

“Direct abortion and euthanasia are not examples of compassion or medical care because they kill a human being,” the bishop explained. “Direct sterilization is not an example of compassion or medical care because it destroys—it does not heal—the body’s reproductive capacity. No one may do evil so that good may come of it.”

He explained that medical procedures which treat an existing pathology may be administered in Catholic hospitals even if they result in sterilization.

“These procedures are not viewed as sterilizations either by the Catholic Church or the medical community. They are simply procedures for existing pathologies that result in sterilization.”

“Tubal ligation and other forms of direct sterilization, on the other hand, treat no illness and serve only to destroy the reproductive capacity of a patient. They are elective procedures, not medically indicated or necessary for healing the patient. No one, especially a Catholic or a Catholic hospital, can be rightly compelled in the name of medicine to provide such procedures.”

Bishop Corrada also noted that the prohibition of direct sterilizations under all circumstances is emphasized in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERD) under ERD 53.

Catholics and Catholic institutions which engage in direct abortion, direct sterilization, or euthanasia “commit a grave violation of the Gospel and the human person,” the bishop continued.

“Catholics who have counseled or participated in procedures contrary to the dignity of the human person should turn back to Christ and the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” he urged.

Catholic institutions which have violated Catholic ethics, the bishop said, should cease and issue public statements acknowledging the “full extent” of their behavior and pledging to ensure such violations will not repeat.

Bishop Corrada expressed gratitude to CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana for their “timely action in stopping direct sterilization.” He also said he was hopeful that Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler “will soon follow suit.”

“I appeal to the conscience of all men and women and particularly to those who follow the Gospel of Christ, that is, the Gospel of Life, to witness against a culture of death,” he concluded. “All Catholics, in particular clergy, teachers of the faith, and those working at Catholic health care institutions, should be attentive to prevent these abuses and to bear witness to the true doctrine of Christ and the Gospel of Life.”

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Pope is deeply saddened by Patriarch Alexy II’s death

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - The Russian Orthodox Church is in mourning today as it copes with the loss of Patriarch Alexy II, who passed away early Friday morning at his residence in Moscow. Pope Benedict has expressed his grief at hearing the news, saying he was “profoundly saddened” to hear of his passing.

The official cause of the 79 year-old Patriarch’s death has not been announced, but he has been suffering from a heart condition for some time.

Upon learning of the death of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Benedict XVI said that he was “profoundly saddened to receive news of the death of His Holiness Alexy II” and that he wished to convey to all the members of the Russian Orthodox Church “my most sincere condolences, assuring you of my spiritual closeness at this very sad time.”

Alexy II’s tenure as patriarch saw him lead a revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia and abroad. The crowning achievement of this revival was the 2007 reunification of the Church in Russia with splinter Churches that were established overseas during the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

Another notable achievement of the Patriarch was a successful program of church restoration that rebuilt churches neglected during the Soviet regime.

Although relations between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Church have been tense at times, Pope Benedict lauded the Patriarch for his “courageous battle for the defense of human and gospel values, especially in the European continent” and added that he trusts his commitment will bear fruit.

Pope Benedict concluded his message by praying that “the memory of this servant of Gospel of Christ be a support for those who are now in sorrow and an encouragement for those who will benefit from his spiritual legacy as leader of the venerable Russian Orthodox Church."

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also offered his condolences to the Orthodox faithful and expressing his sadness at the death of the patriarch. The cardinal noted that Alexy II "was called to guide the Russian Orthodox Church in a period of great change. ... His leadership has enabled that Church to face the challenges of transition from the Soviet era to the present with renewed interior vitality."

The prelate also recalled that in his numerous meetings with the Patriarch, he “always made a point of expressing his goodwill towards the Holy Father and his desire to strengthen collaboration with the Catholic Church.”

“His personal commitment to improving relations with the Catholic Church, in spite of the difficulties and tensions which from time to time have emerged, has never been in doubt," Cardinal Kasper said.

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Be ambassadors of peace and love, Pope exhorts Holy Sepulchre guards

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father exhorted members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepluchre to become “sincere ambassadors of peace,” especially in communities “weighted down” with “uncertainty and danger.” The Order, which convenes every five years, is currently meeting in Rome to assess the situation of the Catholic community in the Holy Land, study the activities of the Order and establish guidelines for the future.

 

Speaking at their meeting today, the Holy Father referred to the history of the Order, which was established to be "a 'guard of honor' for the protection of the Holy Sepulchre,” the church that surrounds both Calvary and the tomb of Jesus.  Since its founding, the Order has been supported by the Popes to carry out their “specific form of service.”

 

After reminding members of the order to keep Christ as the center of their lives, the Pope then challenged the knights to be “builders of a tangible hope," aiming to create a “new humanity inspired by the evangelical values of justice, love and peace. How much need for justice and peace the Land of Jesus has!" the Pontiff exclaimed. "Continue to work to this end, and never tire of praying ... for this aspiration to be realized.

 

"Ask the Lord to make you 'convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love among your brothers and sisters'.  Ask Him,” the Holy Father continued, “with the power of His love, to favor your constant work in support of the ardent desire for peace in those communities, weighted down over the years by a climate of uncertainty and danger."

 

The Holy Father then called to attention the plight of Christians throughout the world. 

 

“My affectionate thoughts go out to those dear Christian peoples who continue to suffer because of the political, economic and social crisis of the Middle East, made even more burdensome by the grave situation in the world. And I reserve a particular expression of spiritual closeness for our many brethren in the faith who have been forced to emigrate. How can we not share the suffering of those communities so sorely tried?"

 

The Pope concluded by recalling the struggles of those who live in the Holy Land, especially Bethlehem and “all places sanctified by the passage of the Redeemer.”  He also asked the Virgin Mary “to make us aware of her maternal protection for our brothers and sisters who live there and have to face no small number of difficulties every day."

 

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Catholic Grand Duke risks power by not approving law on euthanasia

Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - For the first time in the history of Luxembourg, the Grand Duke has opposed a decision by the country’s House of Representatives. Henry I rejected a bill that would legalize euthanasia, and government officials have announced their intention to strip the Duke of some of his powers.

Some reports in the country are calling it a “grave constitutional crisis,” with Henry I announcing that for reasons of conscience he will not approve the controversial law, which the overwhelmingly Catholic population opposes.

Socialist and Green party lawmakers pushed the measure through, and the Grand Duke normally would approve the measure within a period of three months, but this time he made a different decision.

In wake of the rejection, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced the country’s Constitution would be modified to reduce the Duke’s power.

“We are going to remove the term ‘sanction’ from article 34 of the Constitution and replace it with the term ‘promulgate,’ which means only promulgating laws so that they take effect,” Juncker stated.

Some media reports suggest the Grand Duke is repeating the crisis sparked in 1990 by his uncle, King Baldwin of Belgium, who refused to sign a law legalizing abortion that was approved by the Belgian Congress.

Henry I of Luxembourg took the oath as Grand Duke in 2000 after his father abdicated his seat. He was born on April 6, 1955, in Berzdorf.  In 1981, Henry I married Maria Teresa Mestre, who is from Cuba.  They have five children and two grandchildren.

When he became head of state, Juncker said he would be the “most decent Grand Duke” because of his “character and his deep knowledge of the people.”

In his first remarks as Grand Duke, Henry I encouraged citizens to conserve family values, ensure equality of rights for men and women and not be blinded by their prosperity.

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St. Paul’s theology to guide this year’s Advent sermon series

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - As is done each year, the Pope and the members of the Roman Curia began attending a series of Advent sermons in preparation for Christmas. This year’s sermons are being delivered by the papal preacher Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and will have a Pauline emphasis.

This morning at 9:00 a.m. in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia listened to the first Advent sermon of the season.

This year's sermons, delivered by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap, have as their theme: "'When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman'. Going with St. Paul to meet the Christ Who comes."

Fr. Cantalamessa’s sermons will reflect upon the role of Christ in the thought and life of the Apostle of the Gentiles. The next two sermons will be held on December 12 and 19.

Traditionally, cardinals, archbishops, bishops and prelates of the Roman Curia, as well as the superior generals of the religious orders that are part of the Pontifical Chapel are invited to the meditations.

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Natural law defends us from abuses of power, Benedict XVI asserts

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - A commission of theologians is wrapping up a five-year study on the ability of natural law to serve as a set of universal ethics for mankind. With relativism gaining prominence in the modern world, Pope Benedict asserted that natural law is "the authentic guarantee" of freedom and the defense against "any form of ideological manipulation."

Pope Benedict delivered his address on natural law to participants in the plenary session of the International Theological Commission at the Vatican on Friday morning. The meeting coincided with the conclusion of the commission's five-year mandate, the seventh since it was created.

Referring in his remarks to a soon-to-be-approved draft document on the ability of natural law to serve as a form of universal ethics, the Holy Father pointed out "the urgent need, in the current situation of culture and of civil and political society, to create the conditions necessary to raise awareness of the indispensable value of natural moral law."

In a culture where a "survival of the fittest" mentality often holds sway, Pope Benedict praised the natural law as "the authentic guarantee everyone has to live free and respected in their dignity as human beings." Moreover, the natural law helps people "feel they are defended from any form of ideological manipulation and all abuses perpetrated on the basis of the law of the strongest," the Holy Father said.

Since the International Theological Commission also studied the question of the "meaning and method of theology" for the last five years, Benedict XVI went on to remark that "the real task of theology is to enter into the Word of God, to seek to understand it and to make it understood in our world, and thus to find the answer to our great questions."

"Methods in theology cannot be constituted only on the basis of criteria and norms common to other academic disciplines, but must above all observe the principles and norms deriving from [God’s] Revelation and from faith in its personal and ecclesial dimensions," the Pope explained.

Pope Benedict also touched on the sensitive topic of academic freedom for theologians. After first pointing out that "the fundamental virtue of theologians is that of seeking obedience to the faith, which makes them collaborators of truth," the Pope affirmed that "obedience to truth does not mean giving up research or the effort of thought."

"Restiveness of thought, which in the life of believers can certainly never be fully placated because they too are searching for and studying the Truth, will nonetheless be a restiveness that accompanies and stimulates them on their pilgrimage of thought towards God, and in this way it will bear fruit."

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Mexicans say last goodbyes to Catholic politician who defended life

Mexico City, Mexico, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - Mexicans are mourning the loss of Carlos Abascal Carranza, one of the most prominent Catholic politicians known for openly professing his faith and his defense of life from the moment of conception.

 

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City sent his condolences to Abascal’s wife and four children.  “Carlos Abascal was a citizen committed to the wellbeing and prosperity of Mexico and at the same time, he was a Catholic who openly professed his faith and held fast to his religious convictions,” the cardinal said.

 

“Innumerable are the testimonies we can point to about Abascal’s love for Christ and his Church, as well as his strong desire to imitate the saints, such as Thomas More, the patron saint of politicians, whose biography he ordered printed several years ago.”

 

Abascal, 59, a member of the National Action Party (PAN), was Secretary of the Interior during the government of Vicente Fox. He died Wednesday at this home after a battle with cancer. 

 

Dan Zeidler, representative of the Latin American Alliance for the Family, praised the legacy of Abascal.  “I knew him for many years; I was always impressed by his integrity, his dedication and his love of life, the family and the Catholic faith, and by his efforts to do well despite the criticism. He was a very capable person and at the same time very simple and open, with a great heart,” he said.

 

“As a high-level politician, he never abandoned his Catholic principles. Up to his death, he was vice president of the World Action of Parliamentarians and Governors for Life,” Zeidler stated.

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Flier on homosexuals in the Church not a teaching document, U.K. bishop says

London, England, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - A pamphlet on sexual orientation issued by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales has won praise from a prominent U.K. homosexual rights activist who claims the pamphlet flies in the face of the “uncompromising homophobia” of the Vatican. However, Bishop John Hine, who chairs the bishops’ Marriage and Family Life committee, emphasized to CNA that the documents are “clearly not teaching documents but aids for pastoral reflection.”

The pamphlet, published by the Marriage and Family Life Project Office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, is titled “What is life like if you or someone in your family is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation?”

Its title page continues by quoting the 1979 Catholic Social Welfare Commission which wrote that “the homosexual community” is “a group that has suffered more than its share of oppression and contempt” and has “a particular claim on the concern of the church.”

It advises readers to be welcoming towards people who feel marginalized within the Church and not to assume everyone is heterosexual or that all homosexual persons are sexually active.

The pamphlet further counsels readers to post information on “appropriate local help and support services” and informing the parish about Church teachings and Catholic writing on the subject.

It quotes from people claiming the Church has been “very intolerant” of homosexual family members.

One person, a man with a homosexual son, claimed that a parishioner made “extremely hostile, disparaging remarks” when he tried to talk about the matter. He accused the parish priest of reacting in a “similarly prejudiced way.”

 “It’s always important to provide information about opportunities in the local area for moral and spiritual support for homosexual Catholics and their families,” the pamphlet says, adding “Homilies and bidding prayers are excellent opportunities to demonstrate awareness and compassion and express appreciation for the gifts that homosexual Catholics bring to their faith community.”

Peter Tatchell, leader of the U.K. homosexual activist group OutRage!, praised the pamphlet, believing it ran counter to official Catholic teaching.

“This leaflet is a welcome, positive initiative which will bring great comfort to gay Catholics and their families. Its sympathetic, understanding message is a big improvement on the stern, uncompromising homophobia of most Vatican pronouncements on homosexuality”

“Its liberal stance has provoked condemnation from traditionalist, conservative Catholics,” he claimed. “They denounce the leaflet as a maverick, renegade move by the English and Welsh Catholic Church, acting in defiance of Vatican orthodoxy.”

Tatchell argued the pamphlet’s broader dissemination would counteract what he called “ignorance and prejudice” among the Catholic laity, but he asserted that its tone is undermined by “the homophobic content of the Catholic Catechism.”

The Bishops’ Marriage and Family Life Office explained to CNA that parishes are not required to use the pamphlets and that the “Catechism and Bishops’ documents are clear on Church teaching about sexuality and this leaflet is not a commentary on that teaching. The leaflet merely offers pastoral advice on making everyone welcome to their parish.”

Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark John Hine, who chairs the Bishops’ Conference Marriage and Family Life Committee, explained the situation to CNA:

“These leaflets were published and made available over a year ago, and are being used effectively in parishes. They are clearly not teaching documents but aids for pastoral reflection. While focusing on the aspect of welcome, great care was taken to ensure that nothing in these leaflets in any way compromises our Catholic teaching.”

CNA also contacted Dr. Phillip Mango, a licensed psychotherapist in New York and a founding member of the New York-based St. Michael's Institute of the Psychological Sciences.

Though he did not address the pamphlet specifically, Dr. Mango offered general comments on how the Church and society should approach homosexuality.

He emphasized the need for a scientific approach to the phenomenon.

“There is actually no solid evidence that people are born homosexual. There is no scientific evidence anywhere,” he told CNA on Wednesday.

He cited the opinion of Dr. Robert Spitzer, MD, the Columbia University researcher who originally removed homosexuality from the DSM-IV manual used in diagnosing psychological problems.

Spitzer has since changed his view and now considers homosexuality a treatable condition.

“After seeing 200 ex-gays, he was astounded,” Dr. Mango said, mentioning that “voluminous research” supports this position but is not widely reported.

He also criticized the use of the concept “homophobia,” which many blame for the problems homosexuals suffer.

Mango explained that research in the major journal “Psychiatry,” a publication which Mango characterized as “the most open and welcome to homosexuals,” examined homosexuals in “the most quote ‘non-judgmental’ place, the Netherlands.”

“They found a higher incidence of psychopathology among homosexuals, anxiety, depression, all sorts of things,” Dr. Mango reported. “The idea that it is homophobia for homosexuals causing this, it’s really false. Even the secular psychologists know this.”

Dr. Mango suggested further resources for accurate approaches to homosexuality.

He praised the Catholic Medical Association document “Homosexuality and Hope” as “a very in-depth, authentically Catholic explanation of the causes of homosexuality, how homosexuals should be treated, and how they are being cared for.”

He recommended the work of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, head of the National Alliance for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. He further mentioned Exodus International as another resource.

Dr. Mango also emphasized that the testimonies of former homosexuals who are now “happily heterosexual” should be taken into account, since they are rarely presented in the media. On this topic, he recommended the website www.PeopleCanChange.com

He compared the treatment of homosexuals to the treatment of women who have undergone an abortion but cannot find professionals who can respond to this element of their past.

“They are ignored by my profession. Nobody knows what to do with them. They’re really untreatable until they find themselves in a healing community of Evangelicals and Catholics.”

“Ultimately, it’s about prayer and just speaking the truth,” Dr. Mango concluded.

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Renew religious life by returning to founding charisms, Cardinal Rode tells orders

Boston, Mass., Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinal Franc Rode, spoke on the origins of the crisis in religious life this week and encouraged authentic renewal by pointing to the continuity of tradition and the decisive contribution of Vatican II.

According to the L’Osservatore Romano, during an extensive speech given in Boston at a meeting of religious men and women, Cardinal Rode said that today there are some “who have chosen paths that have carried them away from communion with Christ in the Catholic Church, even though they have decided to physically ‘be’ in the Church.”

Others, however, “firmly believe in their vocations and seek out ways to reverse the current trend, in other words, to bring about true renewal,” he continued.

Noting that Vatican II has often been misinterpreted by some who have fall into a series of errors and distortions, the cardinal pointed out that “surely there was much to be corrected in religious life and much to be improved in the formation of religious. We should also admit that society posed challenges that many religious were not prepared for,” he said.

In any case, he went on, “we must categorically affirm that not only was the Council not wrong in its drive for renewal in religious life but that it was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so.”

“Religious life, being a gift of the Holy Spirit for each religious and the Church, depends especially on fidelity to its origins, fidelity to the founder and to the particular charism. Fidelity to this charism is essential, because God blesses faithfulness, while he ‘resists the proud.’ The complete rupture of some with the past, therefore, goes against the nature of a religious congregation and in essence, leads to the rejection of God,” he said.

Cardinal Rode said the misinterpretation of the Council made “naturalism accepted as a new way, with obedience (in religious life) becoming its first victim, because it cannot survive without faith or hope.  Prayer, especially community prayer and the sacramental liturgy, was minimized or abandoned. Penance, asceticism and what has been called ‘negative spirituality’ became things of the past. Many religious felt discouraged from wearing the habit.”

In addition to these problems, other emerged such as “political and social agitation, which became the focus of their apostolic action. New technology led to the personal interpretation and dissolution of the faith.  Everything became a problem to be discussed. With traditional prayer being rejected, the genuine spiritual aspirations of religious have been directed towards more esoteric forms.”

As a result, Cardinal Rode said, religious communities suffered mass exoduses, with charitable ministries and schools suffering the consequences. Vocations declined, and “many of those responsible for the disastrous decisions and actions of the post-conciliar years also themselves abandoned religious life.”

“Many of you remained faithful,” the cardinal said gratefully.  “With great courage you see yourselves called to remedy the damage and reconstitute your spiritual religious families.”  Central to this renewal is fidelity to the charisms of the founders, which “attracts vocations,’” he said.

“The Council,” he stressed, “insists on this point. “We must guarantee that in our congregations, our lives are fully Catholic and forever aligned with the charism of the founder or foundress. There cannot be contradictions regarding this issue since the charism has been given to the founders in the ecclesial context and has been subjected to the approval of the Church.”

“We should not be surprised that the path we must follow is full of difficulties and challenges,” Cardinal Rode said. “Nevertheless, I want to assure you of my total support for any sincere effort at renewal in each religious family in fidelity to the Church and to its founder.”

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President of Uruguay leaves Socialist Party after rift over abortion

Montevideo, Uruguay, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - An official from Uruguay’s Socialist Party revealed this week that President Tabare Vazquez resigned from the party several days ago after he broke with the party and vetoed a law that would have legalized abortion in the country.

 

According to sources quoted by the newspaper El Observador, Vazquez sent a letter to the party’s secretary general, Eduardo Fernandez, requesting that his affiliation with the party be terminated. He had been a member of the Socialist Party since 1983.

 

The newspaper explained that Vazquez resigned in response to the Socialist Party’s support for overriding his veto of the law on sexual and reproductive health, which would have legalized abortion, and for the criticism he received because of his decision.

 

Uruguayan lawmakers were unsuccessful in their attempt to override the presidential veto.

 

Other reports indicated the president also left the party over a lack of support for his proposals during the elections of October 2009.

 

“The resignation was made a few days ago. It is a painful decision, the president says so himself, and it is for us as well, and we will do everything we can to get him to stop this resignation,” Socialist Senator Monica Xavier said in a radio interview.

 

Vazquez, who is a doctor by profession, based his veto on the fact that the law was an attack on human life and freedom of conscience.

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Church not a political player, but it must promote human dignity, says Holy Father

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2008 (CNA) - Upon receiving the letters of credence from the new ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See this morning, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that the Church seeks “to promote the dignity of human beings and to elevate them for the good of everyone.”  He also recalled the 30 year anniversary of the papal intervention to resolve a dispute between Chile and Argentina.

 

Speaking to the new ambassador Juan Pablo Cafiero, the Pope described Argentina as a “place of profound Christian traditions which have planted and cultivated important customs.”

 

To demonstrate this, the Holy Father mentioned that the young Mapuche Indian, Blessed Ceferino Namuncura was "a splendid sign of how Christ, Who truly is the Word incarnate, is not foreign to any culture or person; quite the opposite, the answer for which all cultures long in their hearts is what gives them their true identity, uniting humankind while respecting differences."

 

Blessed Namuncura was a native of Argentina who began studying to become a Salesian at the age of 11.  He traveled to Rome with the hope of becoming a priest, but died in 1905 at the age of 19 from an unknown illness.  He was beatified in 2007.

 

The Holy Father continued his words by focusing on the necessity of the Church to protect the human person.  It is through exercising her mission that the Church seeks “to promote the dignity of human beings and to elevate them for the good of everyone,” the Pope told the Argentine prelate. 

 

“Without seeking to become a political player she aspires, with the independence of her moral authority, to co-operate faithfully and openly with all leaders of the temporal world in the noble goal of achieving a civilization of justice, peace, reconciliation, solidarity, and of those other ideals that can never be rescinded or left at the mercy of party consensus, as they are engraved in the human heart and correspond to truth."

 

The current century, the Pope said, continually shows us the need “to forge personal, family and social life in keeping with these elemental values, which exalt the individual and the entire community.”

 

“Among these we must highlight support for the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, ... defense of human life from conception to natural end, eradication of poverty, ... the struggle against corruption, adopting means to assist parents in their inalienable right to educate their children in their own ethical and religious convictions, and promoting young people that they may become men and women of peace and reconciliation."

 

Thirty years of papal mediation

 

The Pope concluded by informing his audience that today, “in the presence of a delegation from the Apostolic See,” the presidents of Argentina and Chile will meet “to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the meditation undertaken by John Paul II to resolve the dispute between the two nations over the demarcation of their borders at the southern tip of the continent.”

 

The original dispute between Argentina and Chile involved three islands that each country desired to claim so they could have rights over the territorial seas. Argentina desired to say that it had claims to the Pacific, while Chile wanted territorial rights to the Atlantic.

 

The disagreement continued to escalate until the two nations were about to declare war on December 24, 1978.  However, Pope John Paul II intervened, sending a special delegate, Cardinal Antonio Samore to resolve the dispute. After years of negotiations, the governments of Argentina and Chile agreed to divide the islands in a way that neutralized their claims to territorial oceanic rights.

 

The Holy Father also noted that a monument currently still in the planning stages “will stand as an eloquent witness and serve to tighten further the bonds of fraternity and understanding of both countries.”

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October 25, 2014

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