Pittsburgh, Pa., Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - Today Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Paul J. Bradley, currently auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh as the new bishop of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Upon learning the news, the bishop spoke of his gratefulness and excitement at being appointed the fourth Bishop of Kalamazoo.
"I want to express my deep gratitude to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for the trust he has placed in me by appointing me as the Bishop of Kalamazoo,” said Bishop Bradley. “I am both humbled and excited by this great opportunity to serve the Church as your shepherd.”
The new appointee also spoke of his appreciation for the time he spent in Pittsburgh and asked for prayers from his former diocese. Bishop Bradley also spoke “of my profound gratitude for the privilege of serving the Church of Pittsburgh as priest and bishop for these past 38 years.”
“To my family, friends, co-workers and the faithful of Pittsburgh, I beg for your prayers and your ongoing love and support in this time of transition. From the day of my birth, to the day of my ordination to the priesthood and then to the episcopate, I have been profoundly inspired and blessed by the depth of your faith, beginning with my parents, and inclusive of everyone I know and love. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
Bishop Bradley will succeed Bishop James A. Murray, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father after he turned 75, the age of retirement, in July 2007.
According to the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Bishop Bradley was born on October 18, 1945 in Glassport, Pa., studied at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1971. He was named auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh in 2004.
The current Bishop of Pittsburgh, Bishop David A. Zubik noted that while he is pleased with Bishop Bradley’s appointment, Bradley’s leadership will be missed in the diocese. “We celebrate with the faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo who will be blessed with Bishop Bradley’s ministry. At the same time, we realize that we are losing an adviser, a leader, a spiritual mentor and a friend who has served the Church of Pittsburgh so well since his ordination as a priest nearly 38 years ago.”
He also assured those in Kalamazoo that they will have “a true Shepherd” in their new bishop. “As the Holy Father recognizes in this appointment, the Church universal is blessed to have a man of Bishop Bradley’s strength and faith serving in apostolic ministry.”
The installation ceremony for Bishop Bradley is scheduled for June 5 at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo. He will then serve 107,700 Catholics and 76 priests in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Rome, Italy, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - As part of its Lenten program, “A Lent of Charity,” the Caritas office in the Diocese of Rome held the Stations of the Cross on April 3 for prisoners at the Rebebbia Jail, the place where John Paul II met with Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill him in 1981.
The stations were led by the Papal Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, and organized by the Caritas office in Rome and prison employees. “The encounter with the prison population during Lent,” explained Msgr. Guerino Di Tora, Director of Caritas Rome, “is a way of drawing close to a world that is marked by loneliness more than any other.”
We prayed “with our imprisoned brethren in order to be together and to thus prepare ourselves for Easter, confirming the closeness of the Church in Rome, which carries out many activities” with the help of hundreds of volunteers, Msgr. Di Tora said.
Madrid, Spain, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - Representatives of more than 2,000 families have demanded a meeting with government officials in Castilla y Leon to discuss their concerns over the classroom course, Education for the Citizenry, after the regional school board refused to meet with them.
Last month, various family organizations that objected to the contents of the course requested an urgent meeting with the Board of Education.
After receiving no response they made their request again ten days later, saying that their intention was to find a compromise in between the conflicting ideas of the families and state’s ideological agenda.
According to Marisa Perez Toribio, who represents one parental organization, meetings with the Board of Education in 2008 yielded no results because the board refused to accept any of the solutions put forth by parents, in contrast with other communities in Spain under the control of the Popular Party that have offered parents alternatives and have evaluated students who have sat out of the course on a case-by-case basis.
"Solutions exist, and the Board has the power to adopt measures that will resolve the conflict," Perez Toribio said. "Again, we don’t understand the position of the board. In response to this refusal by the board, the representatives of parents have turned to the president of Castilla y Leon to explain these issues directly to him," she said.
"There is nothing we parents want more than to see our kids rejoin their classes as normal, but they will not do so as long as we do not have guarantees that this course is not going to be used to impose its objectives, content and way of thinking, and its concrete moral and ideological concepts, on our children. This is something the schools cannot do, as the recent ruling by the Supreme Court has made clear," Perez Toribio stated.
Vatican City, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - Residents of L'Aquila, Italy are working to recover from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that has left 92 dead and some 1,500 people injured. Upon hearing of the disaster, Pope Benedict sent a telegram to the local archbishop offering his prayers for the victims and expressing his solidarity.
Italy's largest earthquake since 1997 hit early on Monday morning leveling whole blocks of the 13th- century town L'Aquila as well as surrounding towns and villages. Premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday that around 1,500 people were injured and that at least 92 people had died.
''At the moment 4,000 rescuers are at work and concentrating on extracting people from the rubble,'' Berlusconi told journalists.
News of the devastating earthquake reached the Vatican early Monday, prompting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to send a telegram in the Pope's name to Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L'Aquila.
Upon hearing of the violent earthquake, Cardinal Bertone said that Pope Benedict's heart became filled with "consternation."
In his telegram, the Pope charges Archbishop Molinari with passing on "the expression of his heartfelt participation in the suffering of the beloved people affected by the tragic event. Giving assurances of his fervent prayers for the victims, especially the children."
"His Holiness asks the Lord to bring comfort to their families and, while giving affectionate words of encouragement to the survivors and the people who in various ways are helping in the rescue operations, he sends everyone his special apostolic blessing."
Chicago, Ill., Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - This past Friday, Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the USCCB, addressed his critique of Notre Dame's invitation to have President Obama speak at its commencement ceremony, and repeated that the university was wrong to make such a unilateral decision.
Speaking at a March 28 conference on human life, Cardinal George had said that “Notre Dame does not understand what it means to be Catholic.”
The comments, first released by the pro-life news agency LifesiteNews, further fueled the controversy over whether the Catholic university should have invited the president to speak, especially considering his extreme views on abortion.
Last Friday, at a conference at DePaul university, noting the presence of journalists, Cardinal George explained that his previous comments were made as an answer to a question and not for the wider public dissemination they have received.
The USCCB President stood at a podium at DePaul University and in an “attempt to put a cast on it that I hope will be respected,” he said, “I thought that was the only context in which my response would be understood.”
The Archbishop of Chicago explained that the first point he tried to make then, was that the Catholic laity should take the matter into their own hands and act.
“Take your responsibility at hand and write to them (the University of Notre Dame,) not to us (the Bishops.) The bishops do not control Notre Dame,” he said.
The Cardinal then explained that his second point was that the Catholic church is one body, and all are affected by decision like the one taken by Notre Dame.
He said he hoped his discussions with the university would remain private. “Now unfortunately those discussions are complicated because of the publicity given, but the principle is true: no university, no bishop, no parish can take a decision unilaterally and be surprised by the reaction by everyone else who calls himself or herself Catholic might make to it, especially around a profoundly deeply divisive issue such as the protection of human life within mothers’ wombs.”
“In Catholic community, whatever anyone does affects anybody else,” he said. “We can think of scandals. We can think of problems. Therefore, no institution that calls itself Catholic can be unilateral.”
“So the decision in a sense corroborates our theology.” “What one of us does in Catholicism affects us all and I think that’s the question that has to be discussed.”
On the same day, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley defended the invite in a Chicago Sun-Times article “as the father of a Notre Dame alum and as a Roman Catholic who happens to be pro-choice.” The Democrat mayor wrote that he has “no problem” with the university’s decision to make President Obama its commencement speaker.
But Cardinal George sees things differently.
“I have great respect for Mr. Obama and especially for his office and he knows that,” the cardinal said, also acknowledging that he and Obama agree on many issues. On other things, particularly on this issue, he has his own principles that are well thought out and I and many others, not only because of Catholic teaching but for other reasons as well, even outside the Catholic communion, think that it is a crime to kill an innocent human being even though if he or she is not yet born.”
“That division, which is a very profound one, will continue and there is no reason why its terms of engagement should be changed now,” the Cardinal concluded.
Cardinal George’s statement at DePaul can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBAWvRL83Os
Madrid, Spain, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - Dr. Gador Joy, spokeswoman for the Spanish organization “Right to Life,” said that the meeting held last week between the Minister of Equality Bibiana Aido and representatives of those opposed to a bill meant to expand abortion in Spain was “a propaganda tool to give the impression that she is listening to society.”
Dr. Joya, who attended the meeting together with two professors and doctor, denounced Aido for making a final statement about the meeting without having listened to the participants. Joya represents more than 2,000 scientists who have signed the “Declaration of Madrid” in support of human life
“During the hours prior to the meeting with the defenders of the right to life, the minister warmed up for the meeting by confirming to feminists that as soon as she has finished the draft of the new law, she would set another date with them to consult with those organizations,” Joya explained.
According to those who were at the meeting, “Aido manipulated and distorted the contents of the Declaration of Madrid by saying that the Government ‘defends life just as much as anti-abortion associations do, but that it cannot be subjected to extreme religious views.’ Right to Life is simply asking that a woman’s pregnancy be considered from a scientific point of view.”
“Minister Aido has met with 20 pro-abortion groups but with only two organizations that defend life,” Joya added. “The Government ignores the people and scientists and is going to continue ahead with its pro-abortion measure for merely ideological and economic motives.”
The meeting with Aido “was just for appearances, it was only a propaganda tool to give the impression that the Government listens to society,” Joya stated.
Vatican City, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - Yesterday people from around the world descended upon St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Palm Sunday with Pope Benedict XVI, who emphasized in his homily that “denial” and “self sacrifice” are the way to lead to a “just life.”
Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s Square for tens of thousands of pilgrims, including a large delegation of 7,000 young people from the Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain, the site of the next Word Youth Day in 2011.
As is tradition, Benedict XVI blessed the palms and olive branches before Mass began and then led the procession to the altar.
Benedict’s homily focused on the sacrifice of the cross and how it proves "the fundamental law of human existence: 'Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.'”
Two topics that are seen as causes for much of the economic crises, greed and selfishness, were also discussed.
Benedict XVI said, "Those who wish to keep their lives for themselves to live only for themselves, to keep everything for themselves and exploit every possibility; those people lose their lives.” He said that those people who “exploit” others “become empty and boring” and that only through giving oneself and saying “‘yes’ to the greater life” of following Christ, can we have a more complete and fulfilling life.
Speaking on the topic of love, the Pope said, "Love means the abandoning of self, the giving of self” as opposed to desiring to “possess oneself.” Benedict XVI also warned against “closing in on oneself” which leads to selfishness and greed.
The “cross and the resurrection” are the way to live the “truth,” but it is not just enough to “make one single great decision,” following Christ is a “great fundamental decision” which must be renewed daily and by placing “ourselves at the disposal of others.”
To live a “just life,” the Holy Father emphasized that “sacrifice and denial” are key components. Despite what the world says, “Without sacrifice, there can be no fulfilling life,” asserted Pope Benedict as he recalled how in his own life, “The times in which I said ‘yes’ to a sacrifice were the greatest and most important moments.”
Benedict XVI also reminded the faithful that God’s will is always “truer” and more important than their own will. The Christian life, he noted, is a life where the “death and resurrection of Jesus are the guarantee that we can truly trust God.” This is the “way that His Kingdom is realized.”
At the conclusion of his homily, Benedict XVI again stressed, “those who wish to keep their life for themselves lose it. Those who give their life (in the small everyday actions that are part of the great decision), those people find it.” This is the truth, he said, and it’s a “demanding but beautiful and liberating truth in which, little by little, we wish to enter as the cross journeys across the continents.”
South Bend, Ind., Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - A protest by about 150 Notre Dame students occupied the area in front of the university's administration building on Sunday afternoon as they objected to the invitation of President Obama to speak at the university's commencement. The students said that refusing to honor Obama with a doctor of laws degree would be an acceptable compromise.
The Palm Sunday rally outside the famous building crowned by the iconic golden statue of the Virgin Mary was organized by ND Response, a coalition of student groups formed to offer a coordinated response from student organizations to the Obama invitation.
Organizers gave white carnations and pamphlets to the crowd as well as urging people to write letters to university's president, Fr. John Jenkins, asking that the honorary degree be withdrawn.
Emily Toates, a senior who is vice president of Notre Dame Right to Life, explained that following the stance of some Catholic bishops, "ND Response" was no longer calling for Fr. Jenkins to withdraw the invitation for Obama to speak at the May 17 graduation ceremony.
"Our big goal is to bring awareness that we are not OK with this," Toates said. "Our big goal is for Father Jenkins to rescind the honorary doctorate of laws degree because [Obama] goes so counter to the principles of the Catholic Church," she added.
ND Response chairman Chris Labadie called the decision honor Obama a "dark day" for the university.
"Since 1973, a plague has ravished our country. It's not AIDS, Ebola, or the Black Death. It's something far worse. It kills bodies and unborn souls. Now this plague has reached the gates of Notre Dame. It's been invited inside by those who shouldn't have let it," Labadie said.
The main speaker at Sunday's rally was pro-life attorney Harold Cassidy.
Cassidy argued that, "It is with the profoundly misguided assumption that abortion does not negatively impact the liberty, rights, interests, and health of women that we have taken issue.”
"Abortion is anti-women precisely because it is an institution that destroys their rights, their interests, and their health."
Following the rally, the students held a procession to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes for prayer.
Rome, Italy, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - Vatican analyst Sandro Magister reported last week the Vatican "has produced two new texts in defense of Pius XII, the most controversial Pope of the 20th century. Both of them are aimed at dismantling the ‘black legend’ about him."
Magister reported that the book "In defense of Pius XII. Historical Arguments," on sale now in Italy, "presents in a more elaborate and extensive form, writings that were published in recent months in the newspaper of the Holy See, L'Osservatore Romano." The book was issued by Marsilio Publishers and was "written by authors who are also of various cultural and religious backgrounds, including two Jews – but all of whom agree in exonerating Pope Eugenio Pacelli."
The authors are Paolo Mieli, a history scholar and director of "Corriere della Sera," the leading secular Italian newspaper; Saul Israel, a biologist and writer who was sheltered in a convent in Rome during the German occupation; Andrea Riccardi, a professor of contemporary history and the author of the 2008 book "L'inverno più lungo, 1943-1944. Pio XII, gli ebrei e i nazisti a Roma [The longest winter, 1953-1944. Pius XII, the Jews, and the Nazis in Rome]"; Archbishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University; Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the pontifical council for culture; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. The volume concludes with Benedict XVI's speech on November 8, 2008, to a conference on "The legacy of Pius XII's magisterium."
The second text that dismantles the black legend is an essay published in the latest edition of "La Civilita Cattolica," "the journal that is examined by the secretariat of state before publication. Its author is Jesuit Fr. Giovanni Sale, a historian who specializes in the 20th century Church. Here as well, the title goes to the heart of the question: ‘The birth of the black legend of Pius XII’."
In the essay, Sale "makes reference to those ‘Catholic-social’ circles which, already during the 1940's, were accusing Pius XII of silent complicity with the Nazi atrocities. And he quotes the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, who at the time was France's ambassador to the Holy See."
Granada, Spain, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - In order to prepare for Holy Week and the celebration of Granada’s Passion play, known as the "Passio Granatensis," Archbishop Javier Martinez published a letter encouraging Easter to be celebrated as a time for recognizing the value of human life in all of its dimensions.
"Since that first Passion," writes the archbishop, "there is no human loneliness, there is no human sadness, there is no human poverty in which God is not present."
Thanks to the redeeming work of Jesus, "the true greatness and transcendence of God is revealed," he added.
Archbishop Martinez said that the Passion play, which will include 22 stations that will dot the streets of the city, is a "song to the infinite mercy of God, who reveals his greatness and his glory by revealing his love, by giving himself up to death for our life and for our hope."
Austin, Texas, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - A Diocese of Austin priest who had disappeared while preparing a retirement home in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico was found murdered on the side of a highway near the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday morning, Bishop of Austin Gregory Aymond confirmed that the body of 69-year-old Fr. Jesse Euresti had been identified by his sister.
The priest’s body was awaiting autopsy in Mexico before it would be released to the archdiocese, Fox 7 of Austin reports.
Fr. Euresti, a priest at Cristo Rey Catholic Church in east Austin, was last heard from on early Tuesday morning when he called his sister to tell her he was close to the border. Later on Tuesday, the priest’s Nuevo Laredo neighbors called police after finding the priest’s garage door wide open.
Mexican police discovered blood and a knife inside of the home and feared foul play was involved.
Bishop Aymond said a caretaker, Manuel Martin Torres -Saldana, who lived in the same Nuevo Laredo house with Fr. Euresti, is considered the prime suspect in the murder investigation.
Cristo Rey Church will hold a special service for Fr. Euresti on Tuesday afternoon, with Bishop Aymond presiding. Local parishioners are invited to attend.
Newfoundland, Canada, Apr 6, 2009 (CNA) - The executive director of an international organization of obstetricians and gynecologists has expressed “deep concern” regarding the Obama Administration's proposed canceling of conscience protections for pro-life doctors and medical professionals. He warned the changes would further devalue human life, characterizing them as “a form of totalitarianism.”
Dr. Robert L. Walley, MaterCare executive director, in an April 6 letter said conscientious objection has “long been a tenet of civilized societies and it is now proposed that this right be denied by the rescinding protection of doctors.”
“By interfering in the freedom to practice according to conscience, the principles of autonomy of the physician and the rights of mothers will be removed,” he said, criticizing proposed changes as “an attack on an inalienable right.”
Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a review of conscience protection rules enacted under President George W. Bush. When the regulations were implemented, they were said to be designed to help enforce existing federal law.
“To force doctors to perform procedures they believe to be unethical, immoral and clearly harmful to mother and unborn child and to threaten their right to practice if they should refuse, is a form of totalitarianism and amounts to discrimination and persecution,” continued Dr. Walley, an emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“Ob/gyns have long understood that they care for two patients,” he wrote, quoting the 16th Edition of Williams Obstetrics: “Happily we live and work in an era in which the fetus is established as our second patient with many rights and privileges comparable to those previously achieved only after birth.”
Technological advances have allowed doctors to diagnose and treat the unborn child as the “second patient” from the time of conception, he noted.
However, he said that changes in legislation have helped make abortion the “basis” on which maternal health care has provided. This Dr. Walley called a “profound change” of focus.
“The humanity and value of the unborn has been significantly reduced. The result has been no less than the killing of countless millions of unborn human beings all in the name of the women’s so called right to choose.”
The medical precept “first do no harm,” in Dr. Walley’s view, acknowledges that human acts with good intentions may have unintended consequences.
“Clearly abortion does violence by destroying the unborn and by the immediate and long term detrimental consequences to the physical and mental health of pregnant women and for their dignity,” he wrote.
“It is accepted by all governments, professions and religious faiths that it is unethical for doctors to co-operate with capital punishment by giving the lethal injection, or to use their surgical skills for judicial amputations. The so called freedom to choose that one group of women has supposedly gained through the introduction of abortion will now be lost by all women as a consequence of their inability to consult an obstetrician whose practice is based on respect for life and on hope from its very beginning. It will be bought at the expense of a once noble profession.”