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Archive of February 12, 2009

Bishop Williamson to ‘review’ evidence for Holocaust

Berlin, Germany, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has given an interview to the German magazine Der Spiegel, saying that he will “review the historical evidence” on the Holocaust and voicing his reservations about the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Richard Williamson is one of the four bishops leading the breakaway “traditionalist” SSPX whose excommunications were lifted in January. The lifting of the excommunications caused international complaints and protest after footage of an interview with Swedish public television showed Bishop Williamson denying that six million Jews were killed in the Nazi genocide.

He also denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers and claimed only two to three hundred thousand Jews were murdered.

Der Spiegel asked Bishop Williamson how he would react to Vatican demands that he retract his view of the Holocaust.

“Throughout my life, I have always sought the truth,” the bishop said. “That is why I converted to Catholicism and became a priest.”

Saying he realizes there are “many honest and intelligent people who think differently,” he said he must once again review the historical evidence.

“Historical evidence is at issue, not emotions,” he claimed. “And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time.”

The bishop stated that he had read various writings in the 1980s, such as a report claiming that the Nazi gas chambers were technically impractical, and said “it seemed plausible to me.”

“Now I am told that it has been scientifically refuted. I plan now to look into it,” he told Der Spiegel.

Bishop Williamson said he would not travel to Auschwitz himself but would instead read and study Jean-Claude Pressac’s book "Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers."

Discussing Pope Benedict XVI’s lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX bishops, Bishop Williamson said adherents of his group “just want to be Catholic, nothing else.” He claimed that they have not developed their own teachings but are “merely preserving the things that the Church has always taught and practiced.”

He argued the way “everything” was changed after the Second Vatican Council made this position “a scandal” and pushed them to the “margins of the Church.”

“Now that empty churches and an aging clergy make it clear that these changes were a failure, we are returning to the center,” he argued. “That's the way it is for us conservatives: we are proved right, as long as we wait long enough.”

Bishop Williamson said it was “absolutely unclear” what the SSPX is supposed to recognize about the Second Vatican Council, charging that some passages of the documents are “already outdated.”

“These Council documents are always ambiguous. Because no one knew what exactly this was supposed to mean, everyone started doing as he wished shortly after the Council,” he told Der Spiegel. “This has resulted in this theological chaos we have today. What are we supposed to recognize, the ambiguity or the chaos?”

The bishop insisted that the Second Vatican Council declared that it would proclaim no new dogmas and charged “the liberal bishops” with using the Council as “justification for a dictatorship of relativism.”

Responding to the charge of anti-Semitism, the bishop said the Church has understood and condemned anti-Semitism as a rejection of Jews because of their Jewish roots.

When Der Spiegel asked whether he would apologize for causing “great injury and outrage in the Jewish world,” he answered:

“If I realize that I have made an error, I will apologize. I ask every human being to believe me when I say that I did not deliberately say anything untrue. I was convinced that my comments were accurate, based on my research in the 1980s. Now I must review everything again and look at the evidence.”

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Academic publisher suspends publication of ‘too Christian’ encyclopedia

CNA STAFF, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - The scholarly publisher Blackwell is being accused of censorship for suspending the publication of the “too Christian” Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization and seeking to destroy existing copies pending a full revision of the text. The encyclopedia’s Editor-in-Chief is filing two lawsuits against the company to require the encyclopedia be published without removing its “Christian content, tone and character.”

George Thomas Kurian, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (ECC), has circulated a letter protesting Blackwell’s actions, which he calls a “looming crisis” in the publication of the work.

According to Kurian, the ECC was completed in 2008 a year ahead of schedule and in four volumes instead of the original three.

“It was edited, copyedited, fact checked, proofread and finally approved by Blackwell’s editorial team,” he wrote, saying the completed work was launched at the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature where it received “high praise.”

Kurian said the EEC was “lauded and praised” by Miami University Prof. Edwin Yamauchi and Notre Dame Prof. Mark Noll.

On the Amazon.com web page for the ECC, Prof. Yamauchi said the work “promises to be an exceedingly valuable reference work” and is “nearly exhaustive in scope” providing articles on broad topics like the “Roman Catholic Church” and giving “succinct analysis” of themes such as “Christian existentialism.”

He writes that the ECC also provides a “cornucopia” of maps, charts and appendices.

According to Amazon.com, Prof. Noll said the “thoughtfully conceived” ECC presents “authoritative articles, sensible bibliographies, and consistently illuminating treatments.”

Kurian claimed that some members of the ECC editorial board determined that the encyclopedia’s introduction and many of the entries were “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough for being used in universities.”

He alleged that “under mounting pressure from the powerful anti-Christian lobby” Blackwell Religion publisher Rebecca Harkin and Editorial Director Phillip Carpenter agreed with the critics’ assessment, suspended publication of the ECC, and began proceedings to pulp the entire edition of several thousand copies of the four-volume ECC set.

According to Kurian, they did so “just because there are a dozen references to which they do not subscribe and which ran counter to their philosophy and agenda.”

Kurian said that Carpenter and Harkin want to delete words or passages such as “Antichrist,” “Beloved Disciple,” “Virgin Birth,” “Resurrection,” “Evangelism,” the chronological markers BC/AD, and any reference with an “evangelical tone” or a tone citing the “uniqueness of Christ and Christianity.”

He further claimed that the two objected to historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims, also asking for references favorable to Islam and material denigrating Christianity.

“All these I have refused to do,” Kurian said.

His letter announced a class action suit against Wiley-Blackwell will be filed on behalf of the ECC’s nearly 400 contributors. If successful, the suit will require Wiley-Blackwell to publish the book “as originally approved and printed, without change and without censorship of its Christian content, tone and character.”

Susan Spilka of Blackwell’s parent company John Wiley & Sons, Inc. responded to Kurian’s allegations in a statement, claiming that concern about the content of the ECC had been raised in November 2008 prior to publication. Blackwell stated that the review was prompted by concern for its “leading reputation as a publisher of high quality scholarly content.”

“In the course of reviewing the situation with the editorial board (many of whom had similar concerns to those raised by the contributors), we learned that few if any of the contributions to the Encyclopedia were reviewed by the editorial board members as required both by high standards of scholarship and our agreement with Mr. Kurian. Instead, they were only reviewed (if at all) by Mr. Kurian himself. We have therefore asked the appointed editorial board to review the work for scholarly integrity and accuracy prior to publication—the task they were originally recruited to perform-- and the majority of the board has accepted this appointment.”

It described as an allegation “completely without foundation” Kurian’s claim that the review is being driven by an “anti-Christian lobby determined to ‘de-Christianize’ and censor the Encyclopedia.”

“We are sure that you will understand that it would make no sense for us to sabotage a project to which we have committed long-term investment and resources, and which we think will be valuable addition to Christian scholarship.”

CNA spoke with Kurian by phone on Wednesday. He said the publisher received complaints about the ECC because it presented a “Christian worldview.”

He also confirmed that the charge that the ECC was “too Christian, too orthodox, too anti-secular and too anti-Muslim and not politically correct enough” was “the gist” of the complaints and not an original quotation of a critic.

Such complaints “happen all the time,” he claimed, saying changes are typically made in second editions.

“Instead of doing that, they went ahead and suspended publication, and they desired to pull thousands of copies before all were sent.

“This is a very high-handed action that has no place in any publishing community or in any university environment where you have freedom of expression.

“The stand may not be popular with a certain segment of people but these things need to be heard.”

“More than 400 people worked on this for two years. To destroy that kind of work on the basis of complaint from four people seems contrary to the established traditions we have as a society,” he told CNA.

Kurian said it should be expected that the writers of an encyclopedia on Christianity would “look upon the positive things in Christianity rather than the negative things.”

“You don’t write a book on a subject when you are hardly interested in exploring it,” he added.

“To say that a Christian encyclopedia should not be Christian seems to me a contradiction in terms. I brought this project to Blackwell, not the other way around. We had discussed it, we defined what the encyclopedia would be and would try to achieve.”

After publishing, he said, “they had second or third thoughts.”

“That is not accepted protocol in publishing. If you publish a book, you edit the book and then publish. You don’t publish a book and then edit.”

He characterized the publisher’s response as a “classic maneuver,” charging that they didn’t answer whether they are trying to de-Christianize the work.

“What they say is ‘we are a major company, so we are above these things, we don’t do those things.’ But that is not an answer to my question.

“They have prevented [publishing] the work until and unless the ‘offensive Christian elements’ can be removed. That’s the core of the complaint.”

“We already know they are a big company. The question is, can even a big company indulge in this kind of censorship?”

“We are beyond the Middle Ages where you could censor books.”

“We are involved in a society which really needs to know all sides. The Christian side is not being properly heard, that’s my contention. And it needs to be heard even by those who don’t like it,” Kurian told CNA.

CNA also contacted Wiley-Blackwell for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

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Benedict XVI prays for bushfire victims, points Australians to ‘vision of hope’

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - Upon receiving the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of Australia to the Vatican, Pope Benedict spoke of his sadness for the bushfire victims and encouraged Australians to seek truth and beauty in order to unite society and discover hope.

Before diving into his address, the Holy Father expressed his sorrow upon hearing of the recent bush fires in the Australian region of Victoria that have already killed 181 people.  The Pontiff asked the new ambassador, Timothy Anthony Fischer, to send his condolences “to the grieving individuals and families.”

The Holy Father then pointed out how the new ambassador is Australia’s first residential ambassador to the Holy See, marking a “new stage” in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.  He explained to Fischer that the Church's interactions with “civil society” are anchored in her conviction that human progress depends upon the “recognition of the supernatural vocation of each person.” 

God’s plan for every person, the Pope said, includes the gifts of dignity and the ability to seek “truth and goodness.”  These gifts can serve as an antidote to the prevailing Western tendencies to use pragmatism and consequentialism to solve problems, he counseled.

The difficulty with these approaches, the Holy Father warned, is that they “engage only with the symptoms and effects of conflicts, social fragmentation, and moral ambiguity, rather than their roots.”

When the spiritual dimension of humanity “is brought to light,” he continued, “individuals’ hearts and minds are drawn to God and to the marvels of human life: being itself, truth, beauty, moral values, and other persons.”  It is this way that society can be united and a “vision of hope can be found.”

Moving on to recall last July’s World Youth Day celebration in Sydney, Australia’s capital, the Pope commented that every WYD “is a spiritual event: a time when young people, not all of whom have a close association with the Church, encounter God in an intense experience of prayer, learning, and listening.”  He then prayed that “this young generation of Christians in Australia and throughout the world will channel their enthusiasm for all that is true and good into forging friendships across divides and creating places of living faith in and for our world."

It is this sort of “cultural diversity” that “brings much richness to the social fabric of Australia today,” the Pope said, recalling the decades that the country was “tarnished by the injustices so painfully endured by the indigenous peoples,” and expressing his delight with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology offered last year to the aboriginal people.  “Now, renewed in the spirit of reconciliation, both government agencies and aboriginal elders can address with resolution and compassion the plethora of challenges that lie ahead."

The Holy Father also praised Australia’s support for the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, “numerous regional partnerships, and initiatives to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” 

The activity of the Church within the health care sector was a topic raised by the Pope as well.  While praising Australia’s “high-quality obstetrical care for women,” Benedict XVI expressed his concern at the availability of abortion. 

“How ironic it is, when some groups, through aid programs, promote abortion as a form of 'maternal' healthcare: taking a life, purportedly to improve the quality of life."

Ending his address, the Holy Father assured the new ambassador that his appointment “will further strengthen the bonds of friendship which already exist between Australia and the Holy See.”  He concluded with a blessing, “Upon you and your family together with your fellow citizens, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.”

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University student union revokes pro-life students’ club status

Calgary, Canada, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - A pro-life group under fire from the University of Calgary has had its university club status revoked by the student union over a graphic display that compares abortion to genocide.

Besides removal of its recognition as a university club, the University of Calgary is pursuing legal action against the students who helped exhibit a display from the international Genocide Awareness Project (GAP).  The president of the Campus Pro-Life club, Leah Hallman, told CNA that so far three members of her group have received summons to appear in court for “trespass to premises.”

The students are also facing the threat of either suspension or expulsion for “non-academic misconduct.”

The university’s charges against the students stem from Nov. 26 and 27 of 2008, when members of the Campus Pro-Life Club (CPL) set up the GAP display. The display includes large color photographs of abortion and compares abortion to other atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

According to the CPL, the GAP display had been set up on campus six times since 2006 without incident.

Canwest news service reports that the latest development occurred on Tuesday evening when the University of Calgary Students' Union voted to revoke university club status for Campus Pro-Life.

At the hearing on Tuesday, CPL secretary Asia Strezynski repeatedly asked the committee chairwoman Alex Judd to name the policy that the club had violated but the committee “only referred to a bylaw that gives the Students' Union the right to punish a club for violating policies or bylaws,” according to Canwest.

Loss of its club status means that CPL will lose access to rooms, the ability to borrow equipment from the university for free as well as some funding.

Saying that CPL will appeal the ruling, vice president Cameron Wilson reacted by saying, "This action is a disturbing abuse of power." Under the university bylaws, the club has five days to appeal the ruling.

The CPL argues that a “double standard” is at work, pointing out that that the university has not taken action against other students or groups who use shocking photographs to communicate their message.

According to CPL, during the time the GAP exhibit was on display, another group’s display showed “disturbing” photographs of atrocities committed by the Chinese government against the supporters of Falun Gong, a Chinese religious group.

In 2006 and 2007, the University had protected the club’s right to erect the display under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Argentinean pro-lifers condemn abortion performed in Santiago del Estero

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - Pro-life groups are condemning the decision to perform an abortion at the Regional Hospital of Santiago del Estero on a mentally handicapped woman who became pregnant through rape.

The prolife group Servimedia of the Fundar movement said, “The crime of rape was followed by a new crime against an unborn person, who is absolutely innocent and defenseless.  The murder of an unborn person has taken place with the consent of the Courts and with State healthcare resources.  In this case, motherhood ceased to be a place of life and became a place of the deliberate and planned death of a baby.”

Servimedia recalled that “all abortion constitutes a violation of the right to life,” and in the case of the baby of Santiago del Estero, it was “perpetrated by force of the State, in a grave offense against the national Constitution.”

“In response to these dramatic situations, we invite all of society to reconsider and firmly demand the unconditional and absolute protection of each human life, which is of unique and unrepeatable value, regardless of how that life was conceived or its state of health or social condition,” the group said.

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Lifting of excommunication was an 'extreme attempt to end schism,' says Vian

Rome, Italy, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - The Director of L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, said this week the lifting of the excommunication of four Lefebvrist bishops was the decision of Pope Benedict XVI who “preferred the medicine of mercy for the for the bishops excommunicated in 1988, in an extreme attempt to end the schism.”

In an interview with the Argentinean daily La Nacion, Vian said the Pope’s intention “was to continue in the spirit of Vatican II. The Pope has preferred the medicine of mercy for the bishops excommunicated in 1988, in an extreme attempt to end the schism. As I wrote in an editorial, it was a gesture by Benedict XVI that would have pleased John XXIII and his successors.  And what better occasion than the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Council?”

Vian also explained that on Saturday, January 24, “the day on which the decree lifting the excommunication was made public, we provided the focus which I have just described, adding at the end that the unacceptable anti-Semitic statements and opinions of persons the L’Osservatore Romano never named, could not obscure the intention of the Pope,” alluding to the statements by Bishop Richard Williamson denying the Holocaust.

Asked about a possible visit to the Holy Land by the Pope in May, Vian said, “This Pope is not an enemy of Judaism, but rather it is the Pope who is taking the most steps towards rapprochement with the Jews. But there is somebody who wants to stop this! I don’t know where but there is…there are people who don’t want it, because it will be a trip of peace, and this trip of peace is going to bother some and it is bothering some.”

Vian admitted the Williamson case has caused much harm “to the entire Catholic Church.”

But Vian added, “there is a passage in the Gospel that says scandals must come. And by this I mean that the case can be positive,” since “this episode will force the traditionalists to confront the problem of anti-Semitism, not only denial of the Holocaust, which is huge in itself, something unthinkable, because it is to deny historical truth.”

He also noted that Bishop Williamson “also denies September 11 and thinks it was caused by the Americans. And it is a belief that is much more widespread than is believed. Anna Foa (a Jewish columnist with the LOR) wrote that denial of the Holocaust is often united with anti-American and anti-Israeli attitudes.”

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Pope reiterates Church's commitment to rejecting all anti-Semitism

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - The Church is “profoundly and irrevocably committed” to rejecting “all anti-Semitism” and to building better relations with the Jews, Pope Benedict insisted on Thursday as he spoke to a delegation from the  Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Given the deluge of negative reactions after he removed the excommunication of four Pius X Society bishops, one of whom denies the extent of the Holocaust, Pope Benedict used today’s meeting as an opportunity to once again reaffirm the Church’s commitment to Jewish relations.

The Pope began his address to the Jewish leaders by recalling his first visit to a synagogue, in the German city of Cologne in August 2005. Also on his mind was a trip he made to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in May of 2006.

"As I walked through the entrance to that place of horror, the scene of such untold suffering," he said, "I meditated on the countless number of prisoners, so many of them Jews, who had trodden that same path into captivity at Auschwitz and in all the other prison camps."

"How can we begin to grasp the enormity of what took place in those infamous prisons? The entire human race feels deep shame at the savage brutality shown to your people at that time," Pope Benedict told the delegation.

The American Jewish leaders are paying a visit to Italy as part of their annual Leadership Mission to Israel, a trip that the Holy Father explained he will also be making soon.

“I too am preparing to visit Israel, a land which is holy for Christians as well as Jews, since the roots of our faith are to be found there," he said.

Thinking about the upcoming visit in May brought to mind an image the represents the Church’s commitment to rejecting anti-Semitism that is seared into Pope Benedict’s memory. "If there is one particular image which encapsulates this commitment, it is the moment when my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, pleading for God's forgiveness after all the injustice that the Jewish people have had to suffer," he recalled.

“The Church is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti- Semitism and to continue to build good and lasting relations between our two communities,” Benedict XVI emphasized. "The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah was a crime against God and against humanity. ... It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable."

Pope Benedict also raised a point that he made on January 28 about how the Holocaust must never be forgotten. "This terrible chapter in our history must never be forgotten. Remembrance - it is rightly said - is 'memoria futuri', a warning to us for the future, and a summons to strive for reconciliation. To remember is to do everything in our power to prevent any recurrence of such a catastrophe within the human family by building bridges of lasting friendship.

Resolved not to let the wounds of the past fester into a permanent infection, the Pope prayed, "It is my fervent prayer that the memory of this appalling crime will strengthen our determination to heal the wounds that for too long have sullied relations between Christians and Jews."

"It is my heartfelt desire,” he concluded, “that the friendship we now enjoy will grow ever stronger, so that the Church's irrevocable commitment to respectful and harmonious relations with the people of the Covenant will bear fruit in abundance."

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Vatican has problem with evolution only when it becomes an ideology

Rome, Italy, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - Father Marc Leclerc, professor of Natural Philosophy at the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome, explained in a recent article for L’Osservatore Romano that there is no problem with the theory of evolution.  The problem, he said, lies in the ideology that is created as part of the theory.

In his article, the Jesuit priest said that in the past, and much more so in the present, “many, whether they are fans and foes of Darwin, have confused his scientific theory of evolution—which should be discussed at a scientific level by competent persons—with the reduction of it to an ideological system, a vision of the world that forcibly falls upon on all men.”

Father Leclerc underscored that “as then Cardinal Ratzinger rightly wrote, the controversy has not come from the theory of evolution as such, but from the turning some of its elements into a universal philosophy, in order to explain all of reality’.”

Darwin, he noted, “applied his theory of natural selection to how our species emerged, but not to the functioning of current human societies, underscoring instead as a beneficial aspect for the species the acquisition of moral and religious faculties that lead man to protect the weakest, contrary to the absurd pretentions of social Darwinism.”

“Evolution and creation pose no opposition to each other, but rather they show themselves to be complementary,” the priest added.

He went on to say, “Reflection on the place of man in evolution and in creation” is of particular importance. Man, as a living being, can find his own place in the evolution of species which, when read post factum, had prepared for his coming for a long time. But man cannot reduce himself to a pure product of the evolution of species without contradictions: in other words, man is not reducible to mere animality.”

“Good philosophical criticism shows that man can justify the first beginnings of his knowledge,” Father Leclerc argued. “The human being has a capacity for reflection, self-knowledge, and freedom that necessarily transcends pure animality and cannot be simply the product of evolution,” he added.

“As Catholic theology rightly affirms,” he continued, “each human person is the object of a singular creative act by God, who also inserts himself naturally in the homo sapiens species, and appears at the end as the culmination of an immense evolutionary process about which some secrets are now being discovered.”

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Pro-life leader denounces government's ‘efficiency’ in distributing morning after pill

Lima, Peru, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - The Director for Latin America of the Population Research Institute, Carlos Polo, expressed his bewilderment this week at the “efficiency” of Peru’s Ministry of Health in coordinating the distribution of the morning after pill at all of the country’s health care facilitates just days after the a federal Court in Lima ruled the pill is not an abortifacient.

Speaking to Catholic News Agency, Polo pointed to statements by Lucy Del Carpio, National Coordinator for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Strategies of the Ministry of Health, who said on Peruvian radio that “in all the healthcare facilities of the country the Emergency Oral Contraceptive, also known as the morning after pill, is being distributed free of charge.”

“Could the Ministry of Health be so efficient in correcting this ‘deficiency’ of morning after pills for poor women in just a few days? Does the Ministry act just as quickly in the case of antibiotics, vaccines and other basic medicines?” Polo questioned.

Polo noted that in 2004, then-Minister of Justice, Baldo Kresalia, said the morning after pill could be constitutional and could therefore be distributed if it was shown that it was not an abortifacient.

“Or have they been ignoring the courts all this time? I think more than one explanation needs to given here,” Polo went on to say, adding that “information from manufacturers of the drug in developed countries continues to indicate that the drug has an anti-implantation mechanism.”

Therefore Polo criticized the left wing NGOs, former ministers and congressmen who are “praising” the ruling by the Court, claiming that it is beneficial to poor women.

He expressed amazement at how the promoters of the pill conspired to argue that the “morning after pill is not abortifacient because they take the moment of implantation to be the beginning of life.”  Polo noted in response that science has shown that human life begins “with the fertilization of the egg by the sperm.”

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CNA launches new design of YouTube channel

Denver, Colo., Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - CNA has just completed a redesign of video channel on the popular website, Youtube.com.  The new eye-catching layout includes all of CNA’s videos, access to CNA’s in-depth news and the option of subscribing to receive new video updates.

The video site provides access to nearly 200 videos on current issues, the defense of life and the family, the saints, liturgical themes such as Advent and Lent and Church news events from around the world.

Some of CNA’s exceptional coverage includes videos on the Holy Father’s visit to the United States, World Youth Day in Sydney and the plight Catholics in Vietnam.  Some of the most viewed videos include the video “Hard Reality” in which Eduardo Verastegui describes the reality of abortion of the United States; a video on a group of young pro-lifers who were assaulted near the Cathedral of Neuquen in Argentina; and most recently, the case of the Eluana Englaro, also known as the Italian Terri Schiavo.

Viewers are also able to subscribe to CNA’s video channel and receive the latest videos made by our web team.

To visit the channel, go to http://www.youtube.com/catholicnewsagency

For our Spanish channel and news visit: http://www.youtube.com/acitv

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Spanish mom fights to keep young daughter alive in coma for seven years

Valencia, Fla., Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - The Pro-Life Institution of Valencia in Spain reported this week on the dramatic case of a 22 year-old woman who has been in a coma for seven years and whose mother is fighting daily for her life, in stark contrast with the father of Italian woman Eluana Englaro, who chose to end the life of his daughter.

According to the Institution, the woman, whose name has been changed to “Patricia” to protect her privacy, has been caring for her daughter since she fell into a coma seven years ago after a moped accident.

Patricia said, “Each morning I thank God for giving her to me one more day. It never occurs to me not to feed her, and I have stopped being afraid when she suffers a respiratory crisis or [of the thought] that she could die at any moment, since I continually put her in the hands of the Holy Spirit.”

Like Eluana Englaro, her daughter cannot eat, speak or move.

“From day one I wanted her to be at home with me. The problem is that not everyone can assume the expenses that this entails,” Patricia said. “Nobody can imagine how much this makes a parent suffer. Therefore my desire is to keep my daughter in the best conditions possible, no matter what the cost,” she added.

She said she gives her daughter liquefied food because “it is what’s best for her,” and that each day is “it’s a little bit easier than the beginning” to face the situation.

As a result of the accident, her daughter was left with brain damage caused by a cardiac arrest. Doctors told the family the 15 year-old girl would remain in an irreversible coma and that she would never be herself again.

But her mother has never given up.

“Given her situation, she is doing well, although everything is very complex. She is healthy and stable. In addition, by being at home she gets sick less and has fewer respiratory crises,” Patricia said.

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Christ helps us to love life amidst suffering, Pope teaches

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) -

Wednesday, February 11 marked the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was celebrated at the Vatican with a Mass for the sick and an address from Pope Benedict. When faced with suffering and death, the Holy Father taught, we should turn to Christ, who in the Eucharist enables us to "love life always."

The celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the seventeenth World Day of the Sick began at 4:30 on Wednesday with a Mass presided over by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry.

The Mass was attended by the sick and pilgrims from UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

At the end of Mass, Benedict XVI arrived in the basilica where he blessed the sick and made some brief remarks.

"This Day invites us to make sick people more intensely aware of the spiritual closeness of the Church," said the Pope, because the Church "is the family of God in the world, within which no-one must suffer for lack of what they need. At the same time, today we have the opportunity to reflect on the experience of sickness and pain, and more generally on the meaning of life which must be lived to the full, even in suffering," he said.

Recalling then how this year's World Day is dedicated to sick children, the Holy Father asked: "If we remain speechless before the suffering of adults, what can we say when sickness strikes a young and innocent child? How can we, even in such difficult situations, see the merciful love of God, Who never abandons His children at their time of trial?"

"Such questions," the Holy Father said, "are frequent and sometimes disquieting, and the truth is that on a merely human level they do not find adequate answers, because the significance of suffering, sickness and death remains unfathomable to our minds. However, the light of faith comes to our aid."

Pope Benedict pointed the faithful to turn to the Word of God, which "reveals to us that these evils are also mysteriously 'embraced' by the design of salvation. Faith helps us to uphold the belief that human life is beautiful and worthy to be lived to the full, even when undermined by sickness."

At the same time, the Pope noted that "God created man for happiness and for life, while sickness and death came into the world as a consequence of sin."

"But the Lord has not left us to ourselves. He, the Father of life, is doctor par excellence to man and never ceases His loving attentions to humanity," he reminded the faithful.

"We are achieving an ever greater awareness of the fact that the life of man is not a disposable product, but a precious casket to keep and safeguard with all possible care, from beginning to final and natural conclusion. Life is a mystery which, of itself, calls for responsibility, love, patience and charity on the part of each and every individual," Benedict taught.

"For Christians," he concluded, "the reply to the enigma of suffering and death is in Christ. ... It is in the 'school' of the Eucharistic Christ that we are able to love life always and to accept our apparent impotence in the face of sickness and death."

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Legionaries head reports having no specific information about Maciel abuse

Washington D.C., Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - Legionaries of Christ General Director Fr. Alvaro Corcuera on Sunday celebrated a Mass of Healing in Kensington, Maryland where he made vague comments concerning the scandalous revelations surrounding his order’s founder Fr. Marcel Maciel.

Recent revelations indicate that Fr. Maciel had kept a mistress, fathered a child, and lived a double life. The priest, who died in 2008, had also been accused of sexually abusing around 20 teenage recruits to the Legion of Christ and had been invited to a “reserved life of prayer and penitence” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

An account of Fr. Corcuera’s remarks was published by an attendee of the Mass, Thomas Peters, on his blog “American Papist.”

Describing the congregation, Peters wrote:

“Before and during the Mass, I saw many people with worried, drawn faces. I saw several women on the verge of tears and with tissue. During important points of the homily, one of the priests appeared to have his mouth open in disbelief, transfixed.”

Fr. Corcuera, in what Peters said were remarks of “circumlocution,” basically said that the Legion does not and cannot deny there is a daughter of Fr. Maciel.

Fr. Corcuera, who is the General Director of the entire order, said he had no specific access to information about the abuse and said one cannot know what is true or is not, Peters reported.

Another notable facet of the leader of the Legionaries address was that he “gave a general impression that the Legionary was 100% compliant with what the Vatican wanted to see happen.” The priest claimed that his individual visitation of Regnum Christi chapters was approved by the Holy See, mentioning that he met with each of the priests at the Mass individually.

“He said he did not want members of the Family to hear the news from the Internet or on a phone call,” Peters reported.

The priest said that he had asked Jesus to take all the sufferings of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ and put them on himself. Asking for forgiveness, he said he had only tried to follow the mind of Christ in his actions.

Times like these make one appreciate the Mercy of God more, Fr. Corcuera remarked, according to Peters’ summary.

Peters said that at the end of the Mass, the congregation knelt and recited three memorized prayers: a prayer for the Pope, for the General Director, and for their own fidelity.

He said they recited the entire prayer, including lines that say “the Legion and the Movement will be vigorous and will flourish as long as the spirit of our founder is present and active in our lives and behavior.”

“Lord, help us to adhere totally to the charism you inspired in our Founder,” the prayer also stated.

Fr. Corcuera confirmed previous reports that Fr. Maciel’s pictures are being removed from public places and that the feast days honoring him will no longer be celebrated.

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Local officials challenge tax exemption for closed churches in Pennsylvania

Allentown, Pa., Feb 12, 2009 (CNA) - The Diocese of Allentown’s closure of several churches has prompted two school districts and two municipalities to try to levy property taxes on the closed parishes. The government entities argue that the properties have lost their tax-exempt status by closing.

The Bethlehem Area School District, which faces a deficit of nearly $5 million, plans to appeal the tax-exempt status of four closed south Bethlehem churches.

''If a private citizen had a warehouse, we'd have to tax them,” said district superintendent Joseph Lewis, according to the Morning Call.

The four churches reportedly have a total assessed value of $928,700 and would require $40,045 in taxes if their exempt status is ended.

The Panther Valley School District wants to tax seven closed churches in Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

Beaver Meadows and Banks township have also appealed the tax status of closed churches, meaning eight closed churches could be reassessed.

The Diocese of Allentown closed nearly 50 churches in the summer of 2008 in response to a priest shortage and a population shift from the city to the suburbs.

Diocesan spokesman Matt Kerr did not say how the diocese might respond to the taxation proposals, saying that the diocese is “monitoring the situation and assessing our options.”

According to the Morning Call, the Monday meeting of the Bethlehem school board showed tensions over the reassessment effort.

''Why are we going after them?'' asked School Director Rosie Amato, a Catholic. ''I can't believe we would do something like this.''

She said the law is too ambiguous to challenge the diocese, which she said is facing the same economic problems the government is.

Director Irene Follweiler, also a Catholic, said the board has a duty to determine which properties are exempt and which are not.

“If they truly fall under the tax-exempt umbrella, fine. If not, we should tax them,” she said, the Morning Call reports.

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October 24, 2014

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Lk 12:54-59

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Lk 12:54-59

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