Archive of March 23, 2009

Holy Father expresses sorrow for young women killed during stampede

Luanda, Angola, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Prior to his homily at a Mass with bishops from the Southern Africa region yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his condolences for the two young women who were trampled to death by the crowds trying to enter the Coquerios Stadium to attend the Pope’s meeting with the Angolan youth on Saturday.


"We entrust these two young people to Jesus," the Holy Father said, praying that “He may welcome them into His kingdom.”


The Pontiff also expressed his solidarity and offered his most heartfelt condolences to “their families and friends because they had come to see me."


The New York Times reported that one of the women was identified as Celina Kiala, 22.  The other woman has not yet been identified.


The Holy Father also gave assurances of his prayers for a "speedy recovery" for the 89 others who were injured in the same incident.

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Pope rapidly fills Diocese of Oakland vacancy

Vatican City, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - This morning Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone to become the next Bishop of Oakland, Calif.  Currently serving as an auxiliary bishop of San Diego, Bishop Cordileone will become the shepherd of 400,000 Catholics in the Oakland area.

Bishop Cordileone will be taking over after Archbishop Allen Vigneron was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Detroit in January of this year.

The speed of the appointment may be connected with the news that the interim administrator of the diocese, Fr. Dan Danielson, was accused of blessing homosexual unions prior to being named to oversee the diocese.

A native of San Diego, the 52 year-old bishop attended San Diego State University, the University of San Diego and St. Francis Seminary. Bishop Cordileone completed his seminary formation at Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Cordileone was ordained a priest in 1982 and served for three years as an associate pastor at St. Martin of Tours in La Mesa. In 1985 he returned to Rome to get a doctorate in canon law, and after six years of study returned to California to become the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Calexico.

Given his expertise in canon law, Cordileone was chosen to serve as a member of the Church’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, in 1995.

Fr. Cordileone was consecrated a bishop in 2002 and has served since then in the Diocese of San Diego under Bishop Robert Brom.

Bishop Cordileone will be serving 406,947 laity, 433 priests, 12 permanent deacons and  843 religious in Oakland.

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Brazilian priests detail role of Church in case of 9 year-old girl who underwent abortion

Recife, Brazil, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - A group of priests from the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in Brazil have published a letter revealing the details of the Church’s true response to the case of a 9 year-old  girl pregnant with twins who underwent an abortion, which the press claimed was reduced to merely the imposition of excommunication.


The letter, written in response to an article in the L’Osservatore Romano, indicates, “All of us – beginning with the parish priest of Alagoinha (where the girl is from), undersigned – treated the pregnant girl and her family with all charity and tenderness.”


The pastor, Father Edson Rodrigues, “making use of his pastoral care, when he heard the news in his residence, immediately went to the house of the family, in which he met the girl and lent her his support and presence, before the grave and difficult situation in which the girl found herself. And this attitude continued every day, from Alagoinha to Recife, where the sad event of the abortion of the two innocent babies took place.”


Therefore, the priests wrote, “it is quite evident and unequivocal that nobody thought first of all of ‘excommunication.’” We used all means at our disposal to avoid the abortion and thus save all three lives,” they said.


At the hospital and during the parish priests visits with the girl, “he displayed attitudes of care and attention which made it clear both to the child and to her mother that they were not alone, but that the Church, represented by the local Parish priest, assured them of the necessary assistance and of the certainty that all would be done for the welfare of the girl and to save her two children.”


The priests noted that the girl’s case was made known in Alagoinha on February 25, while comments referring to excommunication were made by Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho on March 3.


“We are convinced that the disclosure of this therapeutic penalty, the excommunication, will do much good to many Catholics, making them avoid this grievous sin,” the priests emphasized in their letter. “The silence of the Church would be very prejudicial,” since it could “be interpreted as collusion or complicity,” they added.


“The hospital in which the abortion on the little girl was performed is one of those in which this procedure is always performed in our state, under the cover of ‘legality,’” they noted. “The doctors who acted as executioners of the twins declared, and still declare in the national media, that they did what they are used to doing ‘with great pride.’”


The letter was signed by Father Edvaldo Bezerra da Silva, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife; Father Cicero Ferreira de Paula, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife;  Father Moisés Ferreira de Lima, Rector of the archdiocesan seminary; Márcio Miranda, the archdiocese’s attorney; and Father Edson Rodrigues, Pastor of Alagoinha, in the Diocese of Pesqueira.

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NRO draws top Catholic analysts into Notre Dame's Obama invite row

Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Under the title “A Moral Exemplar? Should the University of Notre Dame honor our most anti-life president?” National Review Online has gathered some of nation’s most prominent Catholics to weigh-in on the university’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to be the principal speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctor of law degree at its commencement on Sunday, May 17.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, Editor of National Review Online, explained to CNA that the announcement from the University of Notre Dame that it will be having Obama speak at their commencement “is an important news event.”

“It’s significant for this administration, which has put itself at odds with Catholic teachings (on embryo-destroying stem-cell research, among others) and promises more (the Freedom of Choice Act, among others). This decision by Notre Dame – along with the pro-choice Catholics Obama has surrounded himself with – provides the White House a certain amount of cover,” Lopez also told CNA. 

“It is important for Catholic higher education, as the administration at ND made a choice that calls into question why they consider themselves any different than any other good school with a football team. This is an issue of political and cultural significance; NRO exists to highlight and advance and debate such things,” she added.

The NRO symposium opens with a comment from George Weigel, the biographer of Pope John Paul II and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

“Notre Dame’s decision to make President Obama its 2009 commencement speaker is a very bad thing,” he says.  

“The invitation to deliver a commencement address, especially when coupled with the award of an honorary degree, is not a neutral act. It’s an act by which a Catholic institution of higher learning says, ‘This is a life worth emulating according to our understanding of the true, the good, and the beautiful,’” Weigel explains.

“It is frankly beyond my imagining how Notre Dame can say that of a president who has put the United States back into the business of funding abortion abroad; a president who made a mockery of the very idea of moral argument in his speech announcing federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research; a president whose administration and its congressional allies are snatching tuition vouchers out of the hands of desperately poor Washington, D.C., children who just as desperately want to attend Catholic schools.”

Jesuit Father James V. Schall, a professor of government at Georgetown University, argues that “the accepting of the honor to the president evidently meets his purposes. The awarding of it seems to meet the purposes of the university. Some say that it is a perfect fit. Others suspect that both parties, in accepting and giving such honors, manage to demean each other in what each is, in truth, expected to stand for.”

Richard W. Garnett, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, believes that the school “is the only real hope left for a great university that is meaningfully Catholic.” “This great need imposes a weighty burden.”

“Unfortunately,” Garnett continues, “by honoring President Obama…Notre Dame has clouded what should be clear, and deeply disappointed not just her usual critics, but also those of us who want very much for her to succeed (and work hard to help her succeed).”

Prof. Garnett believes that to say this “is not to question President Obama’s accomplishments or to deny that his election was, in many ways, historic. Certainly, a Catholic university should engage, challenge, learn from, and ‘dialogue’ with, the wider world. Still, to do these things, to be what the world needs her to be, Notre Dame has to be distinctive not weird, ‘sectarian,’ narrow, or nostalgic, but authentic, courageous, integrated, and . . . interesting. Here, I am afraid she failed.”

Patrick Lee, Director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville, takes issue with the fact that Notre Dame will award Obama an honorary doctorate. “Not a recognition of demonstrated knowledge (as are other degrees), this is a public declaration of honor to a recipient for what he is best known for, in this case his political ‘service.’ It is therefore an enthusiastic affirmation by Notre Dame that Obama is a worthy public servant. To affirm that is to embrace the idea that denying the personhood of the unborn is just a minor mistake.”

“This,” Lee argues, “is not a mere theoretical disagreement. This act of promoting a virulently pro-abortion politician will cost lives — the lives of many unborn. And it will harm young men and women by obscuring the ugly truth about abortion.”

Ralph McInerny, the noted professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, takes a more ironic tack by affirming that “Barack Hussein Obama, enabler in chief of abortion, has agreed to speak at the 2009 commencement and to receive an honorary doctorate of law. That abortion and its advocacy violate a primary precept of natural law reinforced by the Catholic Church’s explicit doctrine is a mere bagatelle. Wackos of all kinds will kick up a fuss, of course, but their protest will go unnoticed in South Bend. The pell-mell pursuit of warm and fuzzy Catholicism will continue.”

“When the president dribbles onto the stage at the great event, the hall will erupt in ecstatic applause; the president, Father Jenkins, will wring his hand; and a final nail will be driven into the coffin of a once-great Catholic university. No one will note nor long remember what Barack Obama says on the occasion. Who listens to commencement addresses? But the Lady atop the golden dome, recalling the flight into Egypt, will exhibit one of her many titles: She who weeps,” McInerny says.

Charlotte Allen, author of “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus,” argues that despite the ND’s “tradition” of inviting U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton was never invited. Any one Clinton’s anti-life actions which ought to have properly disqualified him from setting foot on Notre Dame’s South Bend campus “were spread out over the eight years of his presidency. By contrast, Obama has scarcely been president for eight weeks, and already he’s  forced U.S. taxpayers to subsidize overseas abortion clinics;  announced he’ll rescind a Bush-administration rule allowing health-care workers to refuse to provide services (such as abortion) they deem morally repugnant; and opened the sluice-gates for federal funding of embryo-destructive stem-cell research, all the way up to cloning.”

“If Bill Clinton wasn’t invited to be commencement speaker, why on earth has Obama been issued the implicit endorsement of his views — plus a bully pulpit — by the nation’s premiere Catholic university?,” she concludes.

R. R. Reno, features editor of First Things and professor of theology at Creighton University, says he can see “good reasons for the University of Notre Dame to invite Barack Obama to give a speech…  But a commencement address? It’s not an academic event of intellectual exchange and debate. It’s entirely and richly symbolic.”

“What was the leadership at Notre Dame thinking? In May the university will give Mary Ann Glendon the Laetare Medal, its highest honor. Glendon has heroically devoted a great deal of her life to defending innocent life. And then Barack Obama — a man who has devoted a great deal of his life to representing elite liberal and anti-Catholic moral views about sex, marriage, and reproduction — enjoys the spotlight. It’s an insult to Glendon.”

“Alumni and donors need to wake up,” says Reno. “By all means write John Jenkins, CSC, the Notre Dame president. But don’t stop there.”

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Brazilian officials protect life of sexually assaulted teen and her baby

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Officials in the Brazilian state of Bahia have extended protection to a 13 year-old girl—four months pregnant after being raped by her father—and to her unborn child, thus preventing a tragic ending to a story similar to that of a 9 year-old girl in Recife who was pregnant with twins and recently forced to undergo an abortion.

According to the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, the girl and her guardian appealed to government officials to help defend the life of the baby. The father of the girl was arrested, and since her mother had died and no other family member was willing to take her in, she was allowed to express her own will.

“The greatest right of the child is the right to life,” said Lindidalva Santana, an attorney who is representing the girl.  Bruno Texeira of the attorney general’s office of Bahia said an abortion would only be allowed if the girl’s life were at risk.

Paulo Leao of the Catholic Union of Lawyers of Rio de Janeiro praised the decision of the girl, who officials said had been abused for years by her father.

Carlos Polo, director of the Population Research Institute for Latin America, explained that this case and that of the 9 year-old girl in Recife are just a few of the many cases that the government and radical feminists are attempting to use to gain public support for abortion, in order to achieve “total legalization in Brazil.” “Their aim is to set a precedent that all minor girls who are pregnant are in danger of death and must therefore abort. By recasting all cases in this way they would be covered by the plan to legalize abortions in cases of life of the mother,” said Polo.

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Canadian bishops officially announce investigation of social arm for funding abortion

Ottawa, Canada, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Citing “several serious concerns” about the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace’s reported funding of five pro-abortion groups working in Latin America and Mexico, Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has officially announced the matter is being investigated.

However, he still encouraged Canada’s Catholics to support the Catholic Church’s official development organization’s “Share Lent” donation campaign, insisting that it is a pro-life agency.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) has reportedly distributed funds to several organizations that support the legalization of abortion and encourage the distribution of contraceptives in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Susana Inch Sainze, a Bolivian pro-life activist and attorney, told the National Catholic Register that one CCODP-funded group, Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral (CEPROSI), was “one of the most militant, radical and active” groups pressing for a strong pro-abortion law during Bolivia’s 2004-2005 legislative year.

Archbishop Weisgerber, of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, wrote a March 19 letter on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) addressing the CCODP’s alleged support for such organizations, saying:

“Over the past few days, several serious concerns have been expressed about projects involving five groups in Mexico, which the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has assisted with financing.

On March 18, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto Richard Grecco explained to CNA that Michael Casey, the director of Development and Peace informed him that “each agency and project” that was mentioned in an investigative report by Lifesite News was being “investigated in detail to determine the accuracy of the allegations being made.”  

“I hope and pray that the allegations are false,” Bishop Grecco continued.  “However, if such is not to be the case, then I expect D&P to cease support of projects and sever connections with foreign partners that support or finance abortions.”

Officially announcing the investigations on March 19, Archbishop Weisgerber said, “The questions that have been raised are important, and are being carefully looked into by Development and Peace. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is working closely with Development and Peace to clarify these questions and to ensure that, if necessary, rectifications are made.”

However, the archbishop added that dioceses and parishes should recognize the “tremendous importance” of the CCODP’s Share Lent collection. He said the financial crisis, which is having a “painful impact” in Canada, is “disastrous” for those in the Global South.

“Sharing temporal riches and giving to the needy have always been part of the threefold Lenten tradition for Christians: prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” Archbishop Weisgerber said, adding that the CCODP “respects the sacredness of human life from conception to its natural end.”

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Nuncio to Bolivia reaffirms marriage as a 'fundamental treasure'

La Paz, Bolivia, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio to Bolivia, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, reaffirmed last week the value of marriage as the cornerstone of the family and said the sacrament that unites a man and a woman “is a fundamental treasure.”

Archbishop Diquattro made his statements during the recent inauguration of the Week for Life and the Family, organized by the Apostolate of the New Evangelization, in preparation for March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.

The archbishop called marriage “a good that has been given to man and woman to give them the chance to fulfill the richness of the person in its fullness”

He recalled the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes which affirms that the truth about love and the value of marriage “has two fundamental aspects: the intrinsic value of marriage instituted by God and that is also elevated to the value of a sacrament.”

“Each man and woman who marry in Christ receive the sacrament and they celebrate it from the moment in which they are participants in the very love of Christ,” he explained.

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Petition protests Obama’s invite to speak at Notre Dame

Manassas, Va., Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Upon hearing the announcement that President Obama is scheduled to speak at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement exercises in May, the Cardinal Newman Society launched a website offering people the opportunity to sign a petition opposing the invitation. The petition already has 33,000 signers and will be sent to Fr. John Jenkins, the university's president. 

On Friday, the announcement was made that President Obama will be the main speaker at Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony and will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. 


In response, the Cardinal Newman Society launched a nationwide campaign urging the university to withdraw its speaking invitation to the President.


The web-based campaign,, includes an online petition to Fr. Jenkins as well as contact information for the university.  A press release from the organization urges Catholics to join the campaign – and as of Monday afternoon, 33,000 people had electronically signed their names to the petition.

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Pro-Chavez government approves centralization of power in Venezuela

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Ubaldo Santana, warned last week that the reform of the Law of Decentralization which took effect on Friday would jeopardize the country because the centralization of power “has never been good for Venezuela.”

Speaking on Union Radio, Archbishop Santana noted that the state of Zulia has had “the opportunity to see the advantage and positive results of the decentralization policy.” This shows that before taking measures, the government should have carried out an evaluation, he said.

Venezuela’s National Assembly, which is dominated by lawmakers from the ruling party, recently approved the new Law of Decentralization. The new law took effect last Wednesday and allows the Chavez government to retake control of ports, airports, and communication channels it considers of national interest. The legislation also allows Chavez to scale back the power of regional leaders.

According to Archbishop Santana, the bishops are closely following the application of the centralization measures, which he said are rolling back advances and progress Venezuela has made during the last 20 years.

“As a pastor and a man who serves and works in a region like Zulia, I feel the duty to express my grave concern not only for the measures that are being taken, but also for the way in which they are being applied and the negative consequences they bring” for the country.

The archbishop also referred to recent conflicts among workers and the threat made by President Hugo Chavez to resolve them by using the military. The archbishop called “on the armed forces and all of powers” to understand “that their collaboration should be with the country and with the people, and what they should be defending first of all is the good, peace and harmony among all Venezuelans.”

Archbishop Santana warned that a dangerous climate is being created by the government, and that confrontations and threats only lead to more violence.

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Be generous in organ donation, says president of Chilean bishops’ conference

Santiago, Chile, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua encouraged the Chilean faithful last week to “be generous in the donation of organs,” but emphasized that the gesture of compassion should be made “freely and without pressure.”


In a press release, the bishop explained that he was addressing the issue in response “to the case of Felipe Cruzat, the boy who is waiting for a heart transplant, and to so many others in the same situation.”  He went on to call on all “Chileans to be generous in the donation of organs in order to prolong the life of another human being.”


Felipe Cruzat is an Argentinean boy who has been receiving treatment at a hospital in Chile for 65 days and is currently awaiting a heart transplant.


The bishop continued by saying that the Church “has often spoken about the need to be generous” and to decide to be an organ donor ahead of time “so that when emergencies such as Felipe’s arise they can be easily resolved.”


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Prominent Congressman refers to Justice Scalia as ‘that homophobe’

Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in a Friday interview called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “homophobe,” criticizing his likely support for the Defense of Marriage Act.

In an interview with a gay news site, Rep. Frank, himself a homosexual, discussed the Defense of Marriage Act which protected other states from being forced to recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted in states where the practice is recognized.

Rep. Frank said in the Friday interview that at some point the Defense of Marriage Act “is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court.”

“I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court,” Rep. Frank said.

Opponents of homosexual politics are sometimes accused of “homophobia,” a supposed hatred or fear of homosexuals.

Justice Scalia opposed the majority decision in the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned state anti-sodomy laws.

He said the decision represented “a massive disruption of the current social order.”

A spokesman with the court told Fox News that it is very unlikely Justice Scalia would offer a response to Rep. Frank's remark. 

The Congressman, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in his interview added that he “absolutely” thinks President Barack Obama will reverse the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which bars open homosexuals from the armed forces. He further predicted that Congress will pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which bans workplace discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

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ND President has no plans to withdraw Obama invitation

South Bend, Ind., Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Notre Dame’s commencement invitation to President Barack Obama has become more controversial with the university's president, Fr. John Jenkins CSC, saying that he doesn't plan to withdraw the invite.

On Sunday, Jenkins told The Observer he did not “foresee circumstances” in which the University would withdraw President Obama’s invitation.


Referring to Notre Dame’s decades-old tradition of inviting presidents, Fr. Jenkins said, “Presidents from both parties have come to Notre Dame.” They’ve spoken on important issues like “international affairs, human rights, service, and we’re delighted that President Obama is continuing that tradition.”


On the issue of President Obama’s extreme pro-abortion stance, Jenkins said, “We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life. On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope…for this to be the basis of an engagement with him.” He argued that you “cannot change the world” if you ostracize people you want to influence.


As of press time, Notre Dame had not returned a request for comment, and it remained unclear as to how they plan to engage Obama on abortion.


In 2004, the US Catholic Bishops spoke clearly on this issue in “Catholics in Political Life,” “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”


Controversy around giving pro-abortion Catholic politicians a platform is nothing new to Notre Dame. In1984, Notre Dame was also the site for the now famous speech, “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective,” given by then New York Governor Mario Cuomo. In his speech, Cuomo laid out an argument now used by Catholic politicians to rationalize their support for abortion based upon living in a pluralist society. 


It is unclear how Notre Dame engaged Governor Cuomo on the issue of abortion after his speech.


Some Catholics, however, have expressed support for Notre Dame’s decision to honor Obama. America Magazine’s Michael Sean Winters, discussed his support in his blog post, “Three Cheers for Notre Dame.”


He expressed frustrations with the “right wing” of the Church and wonders why Catholics are so upset about this invitation, “What is it about President Obama that makes the right wing so crazy, so uncharitable, so frothing-at-the-mouth unreasonable?”


Winters also celebrated that the “crowd of conservatives” and “Pharisees,” who want to uphold the Bishop’s teaching, “[do] not own the Catholic Church. They certainly do not own Notre Dame.”


When approached for a phone interview, Winters declined and asked to converse over email. He reluctantly agreed to answer questions, noting CNA’s Under the Glass column, Lessons from Michael Sean Winters on how NOT to blog, which he called “a nasty thing” that “included a falsehood among many idiocies.”


On the topic of Notre Dame, Winters cited a report that Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput had “urged a letter writing campaign to the university’s president.” Winters dismissed the suggestion, saying that the archbishop “has no ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the matter.”


CNA was able to acquire an audio recording of the event in question and found that rather than calling for a letter writing campaign, the archbishop suggested it as a response to the situation.  


Responding to a question about how “faithful Catholics should respond to [general] situations like [Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama], Chaput suggested, “Protest, write letters, express your concern, do it charitably.” He further reminded the audience that “Jesus said we need to be like sheep among wolves” and to “act like Christians when we disagree: to be bold, courageous, and clear, but charitable.”


When presented with this information and asked if he believes that a bishop is stepping outside his “ecclesiastical jurisdiction” by asking people to be engaged in the public sphere by writing letters, Winters responded by saying he would reply when CNA drops its accusatory tone.


After the email interview Winters updated his blog, stating, “Archbishop Chaput has my email and if he objects to the characterization on the blog referenced above, I will be happy to change it.”

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Holy Father advocates for the dignity of women, highlights mothers

Luanda, Angola, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - In his remarks to representatives of Catholic movements working for the promotion of women in Africa, Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of “feminine complementarity” in a technology-driven world and the absolute necessity of the mother’s unique role in the family.


During the Sunday afternoon meeting in the parish of Santo Antonio, located in a densely populated area on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola, the Pope spoke of the necessity of recognizing, affirming and defending “the equal dignity of man and woman."  He explained how both are called to live in communion "through a reciprocal recognition of one another and the mutual gift of themselves, working together for the common good through the complementary aspects of masculinity and femininity.”


"Who today, can fail to recognize the need to make more room for the reasons of the heart?” he asked.  In a world dominated by technology, this “feminine complementarity” is needed “so that the human race can live in the world without completely losing its humanity,” the Pope counseled.


“Think of all the places afflicted by great poverty or devastated by war, and of all the tragic situations resulting from migrations, forced or otherwise,” he continued.  “It is almost always women who manage to preserve human dignity, to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values."


And yet, the Pope lamented, “history records almost exclusively the accomplishments of men, when in fact much of it is due to the determined, unrelenting and charitable action of women."


The Holy Father argued for women’s “full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life,” but cautioned that their positions should not “detract from their unique role within the family.” 


“Here their contribution to the welfare and progress of society, even if its importance is not sufficiently appreciated, is truly incalculable," he said.


He also noted that the “presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognized, commended and supported in every possible way.”


“For the same reason, society must hold husbands and fathers accountable for their responsibilities towards their families."


Benedict XVI brought his remarks to a close by recalling how "the building up of every Christian family takes place within the larger family, the Church,” who works to hold the family “close to her heart, giving it the assurance that it is protected, now and in the future, by the 'yes' of the Creator."

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Pope Benedict praises Church in Africa, departs for Rome

Luanda, Angola, Mar 23, 2009 (CNA) - Thanking everyone for the efforts made during the course of his African visit, the Holy Father delivered a brief address to some officials and citizens of Angola at a departure ceremony at Luanda’s airport.  The Pope praised of the vibrancy of the Catholic Church on the continent and stressed the need to care for the poor.


"I thank God,” began Pope Benedict, “that I have found the Church here to be so alive and full of enthusiasm, despite the difficulties, able to take up its own cross and that of others, bearing witness before everyone to the saving power of the Gospel message."

"She continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come, and she is committed to bringing peace and promoting the exercise of fraternal charity in a way that is acceptable to all, respecting the ideas and sensitivities of each person.”


The Pope also expressed his joy at having met “a courageous people determined to begin again. Despite the problems and obstacles, the people of Angola intend to build their future by traveling along paths of forgiveness, justice and solidarity."


Addressing government officials, Benedict XVI appealed to them on behalf of the “most needy,” asking that they be the principal concern of public officials. 


“Our hearts cannot find peace while there are still brothers and sisters who suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods. If we are to offer a definite response to these fellow human beings, the first challenge to be overcome is that of building solidarity: solidarity between generations, solidarity between nations and between continents, which should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth's resources among all people."


As he prepared to depart, the Pontiff exhorted his Angolan audience to “never tire of promoting peace, making gestures of forgiveness and working for national reconciliation, so that violence may never prevail over dialogue, nor fear and discouragement over trust, nor rancor over fraternal love.” This is all possible,” he emphasized, “if you recognize one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in heaven."

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