Archive of February 3, 2009

Sophia Institute Press names author-publisher Stratford Caldecott as editor

, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Sophia Institute Press has announced the selection of Catholic author and publishing veteran Stratford Caldecott as Editor.

Sophia Press founder John L. Barger, in an e-mail to CNA, said he was “delighted” at the news of Caldecott’s selection by Sophia Institute President Jeff Nelson.

Caldecott will be responsible for strengthening, broadening and deepening the line of Catholic books published by Sophia.

A former student of philosophy and psychology at Oxford, Caldecott became a Catholic in 1980. A one-time senior acquisitions editor at Routledge, he joined HarperCollins to become Senior Liturgical (religion) Editor and then moved to T&T Clark.

“T&T Clark helped me to found the Centre for Faith and Culture in Oxford in 1994,” Caldecott explained in a press release. “My wife and I also started the journal Second Spring – at first as an 8-page supplement in Catholic World Report during the Decade of Evangelization with the help of Fr. Fessio; then as an independent journal in 2001.”

He has since joined the Editorial Board of the Catholic Truth Society. In addition to being editor of Second Spring journal, Caldecott has been an editor of Communio and The Chesterton Review.

The author of a book on Catholic social teaching, he has also written “The Seven Sacraments: Entering the Mysteries of God” and a book on Catholic fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien called “The Power of the Ring: The Spiritual Vision Behind the Lord of the Rings.”

Sophia Institute Press will assume responsibility for the journal Second Spring and will increase its output from nine books in 2008 to 36 in 2009.

Sophia Institute Press has sold over 200 titles and nearly 2.5 million books in the past 25 years. Last year the publisher entered into an agreement with St. Thomas More College of Liberal Arts to become its publishing division.

Its web site is located at

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Traditional Anglican union with Catholics ‘unlikely,’ Vatican official argues

Rome, Italy, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Casting doubt on media reports, a Vatican official familiar with the possibility of hundreds of thousands of Traditional Anglicans potentially entering the Catholic Church, has described as the scenario as “unlikely.”

Speaking to SIR News, Msgr. Marc Langham, an official at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said “indiscretions” and “media rumors that do not correspond to the truth” have surrounded the reporting of the Catholic Church’s relations with the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a group which has broken away from the Anglican Communion based in Canterbury.

“We have not been informed that this is going to happen; maybe the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is more informed but we have not received any update,” he said. “All we know is what we have read on newspapers and on some blogs.”

“What is on the Internet and in the press seems quite strange. It seems to me to be very unlikely,” he continued.

This is unlikely because “conversion is a personal process and a group of so many people could hardly be accepted,” he argued.

He also criticized the TAC’s reported membership of 500,000 as an “overestimation,” saying it is a “very small group.”

Msgr. Langham added that TAC bishops are married and its leading archbishop has been married twice. “Therefore he is not in the position to be accepted as a bishop.”

According to SIR, he also noted that TAC members are not in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“They are not true Anglicans,” he argued. “They are not recognized by the Anglican Communion. Accordingly, we do not know what their status is.”

The TAC’s admission into the Catholic Church will raise “difficulties” for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion, “which is why we must be very cautious and prudent,” he said.

Earlier reports had indicated that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has recommended that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) be given a personal prelature if talks between the TAC and the Vatican succeed. An announcement reportedly could be made after Easter this year.

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British grandparents lose custody of children to homosexual couple

Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Two British grandparents aged 59 and 46 have been told that they are too old and unfit to care for their grandchildren, who are to be placed with an adoptive homosexual couple.

The children had been in their grandparents’ care during their mother’s struggles with heroin. After their mother failed to bring them home from a visit, social workers became involved and the police were called in.

The children, a five-year-old boy called “Josh” and his four-year-old sister “Chloe,” were placed in foster care, an arrangement the grandparents believed to be temporary.

The local adoption and foster council went to court four times to have the children permanently removed and adopted, but each time the court ruled in favor of the grandparents.

According to The People, the council threatened to hire expensive lawyers, causing the grandparents to abandon their legal fight because of the potential legal fees and because of their fear the court hearings would prevent the grandchildren from having a settled home.

The unnamed 59-year-old grandfather, speaking in an interview with The People, said the day the social workers came to take away his and his 46-year-old wife’s grandchildren was “the worst day of my life.”

“Chloe was still little and although we were saying goodbye and reassuring her we'd see her soon, I don't think she fully understood we wouldn't be putting her to bed that night and we wouldn't be there when she woke up. But Josh knew and he was howling. He was holding on to me and saying 'Please, Granddad, don't send me away. I want to stay with you and Grandma'.”

Two weeks ago they learned the children were to be adopted by a homosexual couple.

“"If we had known how it would turn out, that social workers would choose a home without a mother for them and we'd have to like it or not see them again, we'd never have given up the fight,” their grandmother said.

"The thing is they were so happy here. They knew they were loved and they were safe.

"They had all this countryside to play in. They loved going on the farm with their granddad. They'd see deer and badgers and all sorts out there.”

The children are now with a foster mother while they are gradually introduced to the homosexual couple.

The grandparents claim that social workers told them their access to the children would be restricted if they opposed the homosexual adoption, according to The People. Last week the grandparents were told they would never see their grandchildren again because they had made public the fact that the children were taken from them and to be adopted by two homosexual men.

According to the Telegraph, the case is believed to be the second time that a homosexual couple has been chosen to adopt in Edinburgh.

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, criticized the adoption, saying:

"This is a devastating decision which will have a serious impact on the welfare of the children involved.

"There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable and reduce the life expectancy of those involved.

"With this in mind, the social work department has deliberately ignored evidence which undermines their decision and opted for politically correct posturing rather than providing stability and protection.

"It is impossible to see how this decision is in the best interests of the children," Kearney remarked, according to The Scotsman.

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Holy Father asks consecrated religious to imitate the life of Paul

Vatican City, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict instructed members of religious congregations yesterday on the thirteenth Day of Consecrated Life, that the best way to respond to their vocation is to focus on the lifestyle and mission of St. Paul.

The Holy Father met with members of religious congregations, institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, after the conclusion of a Mass celebrating the Day of Consecrated Life, an annual celebration established by John Paul II.

After greeting those present, the Holy Father focused his remarks on St. Paul, the Apostle who is recognized as the father of those “who, called by the Lord, have chosen to dedicate themselves unconditionally to Him and His Gospel.”  He further explained that the best way to respond to one’s vocation to the consecrated life, is by imitating the lifestyle of Paul and his focus on poverty, chastity and obedience.

The Holy Father then zeroed in on the three “evangelical counsels” by first turning his attention to poverty.  “In the life of poverty [Paul] saw a guarantee that the Gospel would be announced freely,” and also found a life of poverty to be “an expression of real solidarity towards brothers and sisters in need.”

"Accepting God's call to chastity," continued the Holy Father, the Apostle of the Gentiles "gave his heart entirely to the Lord” to serve others with “greater freedom and dedication.”  

In addition, “in a world in which the values of Christian chastity enjoyed little popularity,” Pope Benedict noted, Paul “offered secure guidelines of behavior."

On the subject of obedience, Benedict XVI recalled how St. Paul was "under daily pressure because of his anxiety for all the churches,” and how this "inspired, shaped and consumed his life, making it a sacrifice agreeable to God."

The Holy Father then discussed Paul’s mission as an aspect of consecrated life.  “He was entirely for Jesus in order to be, like Jesus, for everyone.”  By imitating Paul, “so closely bound to the person of Christ, we recognize a profound capacity to unite spiritual life and missionary activity. In him, these two dimensions support one another."

The Pope told the consecrated people of his hope that the Pauline Year may "give you further encouragement to welcome the witness of St. Paul,” specifically by “meditating daily upon the Word of God through the faithful practice of 'lectio divina', and singing 'psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts'.”

“May the Apostle help you to accomplish your apostolic service in and with the Church, the Holy Father ended in prayer, “with an unreserved spirit of communion, making a gift of your charisms to others and bearing witness to the greatest charism of all, which is charity."

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Pope Benedict exhorts Catholics to rediscover fasting this Lent

Vatican City, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) -

As Catholics around the world prepare to begin the Lenten season in just over three weeks, Pope Benedict XVI has published his Lenten Message for 2009. This year the Holy Father focuses his message on the meaning and value of fasting, emphasizing that it helps believers to prepare to do the will of God.

The message, which the Pope penned on December 11, 2008, has as its title, a verse from the Gospel of St. Matthew: "He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry."

The Holy Father traces the practice of fasting all the way back to God’s command to Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Walking through salvation history, the Pope points to his Lenten message’s theme: "The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food', which is to do the Father's will."

Pope Benedict also acknowledges that fasting has become fashionable for people concerned with their bodily health, but he explains that for believers the primary benefit of fasting is as "a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God." "Denying material food, which nourishes our body," the Pope adds, "nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word."

The final dimension of fasting the Holy Father mentions is that turns one outwards and thereby keeps alive a "welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters." In order to encourage this he writes: "I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving."

Speaking at a press conference to introduce the Pope’s Lenten Message, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, explained how Christian fasting does not entail a dualistic approach that views all material things as bad.

Yet, the cardinal warned, "the body can become a tyrant" and "the desire for wellbeing and pleasure can reduce freedom and become unmanageable by the human will."

Thus, "fasting in this Lent has no negative connotations. How could we scorn our own flesh if the Son of God took that flesh upon Himself, becoming our brother! Depriving oneself and denying oneself are positive acts: they aim at the encounter with Christ," said Cardinal Cordes.

The full Vatican translation of Pope Benedict’s message is reproduced below:

"At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition - prayer, almsgiving, fasting - to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God's power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, 'dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride'. For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord's fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: 'Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry'. Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law and Elijah's fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb, Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.

"We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: 'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die'. Commenting on the divine injunction, St. Basil observes that 'fasting was ordained in Paradise', and 'the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam'. He thus concludes: ' 'You shall not eat' is a law of fasting and abstinence'. Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that 'we might humble ourselves before our God'. The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah's call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: 'Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?' In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.

"In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who 'sees in secret, and will reward you'. He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'. The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food', which is to do the Father's will. If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord's command 'of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat', the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.

"The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community. The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the 'old Adam', and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. St. Peter Chrysologus writes: 'Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God's ear to yourself'.

"In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterised by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one's body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical wellbeing, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution 'Paenitemini' of 1966, Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to 'no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave Himself for him, he will also have to live for his brethren'. Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel.

"The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. St. Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as 'twisted and tangled knottiness', writes: 'I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness'. Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.

"At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, St. John admonishes: 'If anyone has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him - how does the love of God abide in him?' Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother. By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving. From the beginning, this has been the hallmark of the Christian community, in which special collections were taken up, the faithful being invited to give to the poor what had been set aside from their fast. This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged again in our day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.

"From what I have said thus far, it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetic practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten liturgy exhorts: 'Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia' - Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.

"Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God. May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, 'lectio divina', recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, 'Causa nostrae laetitiae', accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a 'living tabernacle of God.' With these wishes, while assuring every believer and ecclesial community of my prayer for a fruitful Lenten journey, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing."



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Vatican expert analyzes internal causes of SSPX bishop ‘flap’

Rome, Italy, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Sandro Magister, the Vatican expert of the Italian Magazine L'Espresso, will publish a story on Wednesday analyzing the internal circumstances that led to the Vatican's decision on lifting the excommunications of the four bishops from the Society of Saint Pius X, including the now infamous Bishop Richard Williamson.

In tomorrow's story, Magister claims that because of serious "management  errors,"  "the  lifting of the excommunications from the Lefebvrist bishops looks more and more like a double disaster, one of government and one of communications."

The Vatican specialist claims that despite the fact that Pope Benedict seems to be the one "most exposed" to the media fallout, neither he nor his closest collaborators are to blame for the flap.  To that end, Magister reveals some aspects of the process that led to the Pope's decision to lift the excommunications and the situation the bishops of the SSPX would still be in without the Pope’s declaration. 

Nevertheless, according to the Vatican expert, none of this complexity was reflected in how the Vatican handled the announcement, and as a consequence, “the popular version divulged by the media, about the decree of the Church of Rome simply seemed to welcome the Lefebvrists back in it bosom."

Magister analyses what led to the "huge storm" that followed the announcement, and concludes that there was more to it than just "mistakes."

In fact, he compares the announcement to the communication efforts made the previous day to promote the new Vatican channel on YouTube, and to the following week's press conference to announce the Vatican activities for the year of Galileo.

"If all this has happened it is not the fault of the Vatican Press office or its director, the Jesuit Federico Lombardi, but of the offices in the Curia from which they receive their orders,” writes Magister. In particular, the Vatican analyst’s article concentrates on the role played by the Vatican's department of the Secretary of State in the "disaster."

The article will be available tomorrow at:

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Vatican channel on YouTube receives 750,000 visits first week

Rome, Italy, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - The Italian news agency SIR reported this week that since its debut on January 23, the Vatican’s YouTube channel has received more than 750,000 visits.

According to the Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, who was answering questions from reporters about the YouTube channel, said, “During the first six days since the opening of the new channel, the page views in the four languages (English, Italian, German and Spanish) have reached more than 750,000.”

“The Google analysts we have consulted,” he continued, “think our channel is absolutely aligned with the levels of visits of other (sites) that were launched even much earlier.”

In comments to the SIR news agency, Archbishop Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, explained that “the relationship between the theme of the World Day of Social Communications (New Technologies, New Relations. Promoting a culture of respect and friendly dialogue) and the Pope’s exhortation about YouTube has been—and is—one of the most significant elements at the basis of the efforts of our dicastery.”

“We have again underscored that not only is it important to embrace and sustain theoretically the development of the new technologies, but also to offer a concrete sign of such a reality,” he added.

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Legionaries of Christ acknowledge founder’s ‘inappropriate’ behavior

New Haven, Conn., Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Responding to unconfirmed revelations of misconduct by the Legionaries of Christ Founder Fr. Marcial Maciel, the U.S. spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ has acknowledged unspecified actions that “weren’t appropriate for a Catholic priest.” However, he insisted that Fr. Maciel “was and always will be the father of the Legion.”

The blog “Exlcblog” claimed that Fr. Scott Reilly, the Legionaries of Christ Territorial Director in Atlanta, Georgia announced to those in the Territorial Direction that Fr. Maciel had a mistress, fathered a child, and lived a double life. The blog claimed that the Legionaries of Christ is therefore renouncing Father Maciel as their spiritual father.

CNA contacted Legionaries of Christ spokesman Jim Fair, but received no specific confirmation of any allegations.

“We’ve learned some things about our founder’s life that are surprising and difficult to understand,” Fair told CNA on Tuesday.

“We can confirm that there are aspects of his life that weren’t appropriate for a Catholic priest.

“Obviously he had human failings but it remains true that through him we received our charism, which has been approved by the Church.

“Our commitment remains and we‘re going to go forward and love Christ and serve the Church,” he remarked.

Asked to verify the specific allegations, Fair replied:

“Fr. Maciel died over a year ago and obviously whatever has happened is between him and God and God’s judgment and mercy, so we’re going to let him take care of that.”

CNA asked Fair to verify whether the Legionaries of Christ were distributing information on the allegations through their regional directors.

“We communicate internally, but I can’t make any comment beyond that,” Fair replied.

“I know that there have been rumors about are we somehow denouncing him. Obviously we are not. Fr. Maciel was and always will be the father of the legion.

“One of the mysteries of our faith is that God sometimes works through flawed human beings.”

In 2006, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, citing Fr. Maciel’s advanced age and declining health, decided to forgo a hearing into allegations he sexually abused around 20 different teenage recruits to the Legionaries of Christ as far back as the 1980s. The Congregation invited Fr. Maciel “to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry.”

Fr. Maciel died on January 30, 2008.

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Obama’s Mexico City Policy decision most unpopular yet

Washington D.C., Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - A new survey reports that President Barack Obama’s decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy is the most unpopular decision of his presidency so far. The Jan. 23 policy change means that the U.S. government can fund international groups which perform or promote abortions.

A Jan. 30-Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup poll asked whether Americans approve or disapprove of seven specific actions President Obama has taken as president.

Respondents were asked whether they approved of his action “allowing funding for overseas family planning groups that provide abortions.”

Only 35 percent of respondents said they approved of the decision. A majority of Democrats supported the decision, while only 8 percent of Republicans did.

The second least popular presidential action was the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison center for suspected terrorists and other detainees. According to the USA Today/Gallup Poll, about 44 percent supported the move.

Sixty-six percent of those surveyed approved of a decision making it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination.

About three-quarters of respondents respectively approved of President Obama’s limiting interrogation techniques on prisoners, instituting higher fuel efficiency standards, tightening ethics rules for administration officials and naming special envoys for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Education demands discipline, freedom and ‘learning to suffer,’ says Cardinal Ruini

Milan, Italy, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, said this week that the education of the younger generations demands parental involvement in teaching an authentic discipline that allows for true personal freedom and always points towards what is better.

At a conference this Monday to mark the 140th anniversary of St. Charles School in Milan, the cardinal said that when relativism, nihilism and naturalism prevail in the world, “the first and most necessary contribution to the formation of persons” is always that which comes from “the fundamental experience of love that children have, or should have, with their parents.”

The relationship between teacher and student, the cardinal continued, “is always an encounter of two freedoms, one of which is in formation. A good education is one which allows later for the correct use of freedom. When a child grows and becomes an adolescent and later a young adult, the risk of freedom must also be accepted, being ready nonetheless to help to correct wrong choices.”

“Moreover, what we definitely should not do,” the cardinal continued, “is support mistakes pretending that we don’t see them, or worse yet, embracing them as if they were an expression of creativity and personal freedom.”

Cardinal Ruini later explained that “suffering is part of reality and of the truth of our lives.  In striving that less young people experience difficulties and pain, we run the risk of creating fragile people, despite our best intentions, of creating people who are fragile, not very realistic and not very generous: the capacity to love and give of oneself corresponds to the capacity to suffer and to suffer together.”

“In order for it to be complete and adequate,” Cardinal Ruini continued, “or better yet fully human, education should seek not to leave unanswered the questions of suffering, above all of innocent suffering, and in the end those that death itself poses to our consciences.”

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New Catholic TV and radio directory launched online

Rome, Italy, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, announced this week the launching of a new internet directory of Catholic TV and radio stations throughout the world.  The new site, for now only available in Spanish, is at

According to the L’Osservatore Romano, the new directory, named after the historic Vatican II decree published on December 4, 1963 on the social communications media, will also be translated into French and English and later will include “newspapers, news agencies, podcasts, and Catholic university departments.”

Still in its testing phase, the site is being managed by the “Pontifical Council for Social Communications in collaboration with CELAM and Signis.” Archbishop Celli made the announcement in Dallas, where he was invited to speak on the role of the media in evangelization.

During his remarks, the archbishop recalled that the Church is “already present” on the internet, “but we are only at the beginning of the journey.” He said Catholic media is called to “develop a more strategic and integrated presence, to move together in order to assure an effective, articulate and coherent presentation of the Good News, and to appreciate the communion between the thousands of initiatives that are emerging. Each one has its own charism and mission, but each is called to reflect the universal mission of the Church.”

Archbishop Celli also recalled the late Cardinal Avery Dulles who argued that communication is not only an activity of the Church but constitutes her very essence: that is, it unifies and gives meaning to all the aspects of ecclesial life.  “This is particularly true in evangelization,” the archbishop explained.

He concluded his remarks emphasizing that the “new media undoubtedly offer the Church a great opportunity to sow the word of God in all places.”

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University not simply a ‘degree factory,’ warns Cardinal Poupard

Madrid, Spain, Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - The president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said this week Catholic universities must make “the comprehensive formation of the person” a priority and that centers of higher learning must not become “mere degree factories.”

During a seminar on Catholic universities organized by the John Henry Newman Institute of the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid, the cardinal explained that the “university cannot just yield to the demands of the market and become a mere degree factory,” since its mission one of “passionate service to the truth.”

Cardinal Poupard also noted that the Catholic university must prioritize “the comprehensive formation of the person” in all areas of knowledge, because only by seeking the growth of the human being will it help to avoid “a world dominated by soulless experts.”

“The mission of the Catholic university is not complete if it does not aspire to evangelize,” the cardinal continued, calling on university professors to “be teachers of their students and not only instructors.”

“The future of humanity is in the hands of those who know who to give to upcoming generations reasons to live and reasons to hope,” he added.

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Cardinal O’Malley: Bishop’s ‘terrible’ Holocaust comments show need for papal oversight

Boston, Mass., Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - In a Friday article on his blog, Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley commented on the controversy surrounding Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) Bishop Richard Williamson’s “terrible” statements which minimized Jewish suffering in the Holocaust. He argued the bishop’s comments prove the need to increase papal influence over the SSPX and its bishops, whose excommunications were recently lifted.

Expressing deep sorrow at the pain Jews have felt because of the bishop’s statements, he clarified that the removal of the excommunications does not regularize the breakaway “traditionalist” bishops but opens the way for further dialogue.

Recounting the history of the SSPX, which rejects some elements of the Second Vatican Council and adheres to the Tridentine Latin Mass, the cardinal mentioned that SSPX founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 ordained the four bishops without the approval of the Pope. He thus incurred an automatic excommunication on himself and the four men he ordained.

Efforts to return the SSPX and its adherents, who may number as many as 1.5 million people, prompted the remittance of the excommunications, Cardinal O’Malley said.

However, a November 2008 Swedish public television interview with SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson revealed that the bishop denied that six million Jews were killed in the Nazi genocide and also denied the use gas chambers to execute the Jews. He claimed only two to three hundred thousand Jews were murdered.

The January revelation of his interview comments provoked a media firestorm and accusations of Holocaust denial.

Bishop Williamson apologized for causing “unnecessary distress” to the Pope and to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” tasked with reconciling the SSPX to the Catholic Church. However, he made no mention of retracting his controversial comments.

Cardinal O’Malley said he was pleased with the news that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications, adding it shows “the Holy Father’s concern for unity and reconciliation in the Church.”

But he was also critical of Bishop Williamson.

“It was tragic that one of the four bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, had made outrageous statements about the Holocaust and about the September 11 attacks on the United States,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “It certainly raises questions as to the caliber of the leadership that the Society has.”

“Additionally, as terrible as the comments were, it underscores the importance for the Holy Father to have increasing influence over those communities,” he commented.

“We are very sorry that the people in the Jewish community have been so pained and outraged by Bishop Williamson’s statements,” the cardinal wrote.

He said statements from the Pope and Cardinal Walter Kasper, chairman of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, have been “very clear” to “dissociate” the Catholic Church from those sentiments.

“I was pleased that the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, also repudiated the statements of Bishop Williamson,” the cardinal said.

“It is very important for us to always remember the Holocaust so that such an atrocity could never take place again,” Cardinal O’Malley said.

He quoted remarks Pope Benedict made last week, which said “May the Shoah be for everyone an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all.”

Cardinal O’Malley said the lifting of the SSPX bishops’ excommunications was a “first step” and does not “regularize” the bishops or the SSPX, but “it opens the way for a dialogue.”

The action was a response to a letter from the SSPX bishops which professed their desire for full participation in the life of the Church.

Pope Benedict’s “outreach” to those in SSPX communities, the cardinal said, manifests “his ardent desire to bring these people back into the fold.”

“We know that these are generally people who practice their faith and try to live a Christian life seriously but, unfortunately, I believe that they have been misled by their leadership.”

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U.S. Catholic bishops condemn comments by SSPX bishop

Washington D.C., Feb 3, 2009 (CNA) - Reactions against Bishop Richard Williamson’s remarks diminishing the Holocaust are coming from all corners of the globe. On Tuesday afternoon, Cardinal Francis George, the president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, added the bishops’ voices to the chorus of condemnation.  

Cardinal George said in his statement that the lifting of the excommunications from the four St. Pius X Society bishops is “but a first step” toward their entering “back into full communion with the Catholic Church."

One condition that still must be resolved, Cardinal George pointed out, is that, “they, like all Catholic bishops, will have to give their assent to all that the Church professes, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”

Addressing the controversial comments made by Bishop Williamson about the Holocaust, Cardinal George described them as “deeply offensive and utterly false.”

“Bishop Williamson has denied historical facts about the Shoah, in which six million Jews were cruelly annihilated, innocent victims of blind racial and religious hatred. These comments have evoked understandable outrage from within the Jewish community and also from among our own Catholic people. No Catholic, whether lay person, priest or bishop can ever negate the memory of the Shoah, just as no Catholic should ever tolerate expressions of anti-Semitism and religious bigotry,” the cardinal said.

On behalf of all the Catholic bishops in the United States, Cardinal George stated that they are “as committed as ever to building bonds of trust and mutual understanding with our elder brothers and sisters, the Jewish people, so that together with them we may be a blessing to the world.”

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