Archive of April 16, 2009

Bishop Soto to lead rosary procession to Sacramento abortion clinic

Sacramento, Calif., Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop of Sacramento Jaime Soto will lead a rosary procession to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Sacramento this coming Saturday to pray for an end to an abortion and for “the conversion of our nation.”

An announcement on the diocesan website said the bishop will join the apostolate Helpers of God’s Precious Infants in a prayer procession that will include Bishop Soto leading Benediction and the Rosary.

In a January 12 letter, Bishop Soto extended his episcopal endorsement to Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, describing them as “an autonomous and independent group of Catholics committed to promoting the moral teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the grave moral evil of abortion and the sacred dignity of human life.”

He added that he was “most impressed” with the group’s outreach to expectant mothers and its commitment to maintaining a “respectful and loving” presence outside abortion centers. Their efforts were an “important component” of the promotion of a “culture of life,” Bishop Soto wrote.

More information on the group and the procession is available at

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Archbishop Dolan introduces himself to New York City

New York City, N.Y., Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - The new Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has published a short essay discussing his joy, enthusiasm, and nervousness in taking his “difficult job.” Saying he aims to be a “happy bishop,” he asked people to pray that God give him the “wisdom and courage” necessary for a faithful archbishop.

“What is a boy from Ballwin, Missouri, doing in the Big Apple?” his essay in the April 15 New York Daily News began.

Saying that Pope Benedict XVI had selected him despite his “weaknesses and limitations,” he said “in obedience to Jesus Christ and His Church I come to New York with joy, with trust, with enthusiasm - and yes, with some nervousness!”

He noted that the Archdiocese of New York has been welcoming people for more than 200 years. “If there is any place that knows how to make a newcomer feel at home, it's New York,” Archbishop Dolan wrote.

Archbishop Dolan asked all New Yorkers to pray for him, particularly requesting that all Catholic families and Catholic schools ask their children to say a Hail Mary for him.

“The prayers of children are powerful indeed, and I need them,” he noted.

The archbishop described his task “to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to encourage all those who will listen to set out on the high adventure of Christian discipleship.”

“I aim to be a happy bishop, sharing joys and laughs with you,” he wrote in the New York Daily News. “So you will see me at the St. Patrick's parade, and at the new Yankee Stadium, and at processions and feast days and barbecues across our almost 400 parishes.

“Being Catholic is not a heavy burden, snuffing the joy out of life; rather our faith in Jesus and His Church gives meaning, purpose and joy to life. I love being a Catholic, I love being a priest, and I fully intend to love being archbishop of New York while loving all of you in the Church in New York.”

He said loving the Church means supporting her “indispensable work” caring for the poor, immigrants, the sick and elderly, the lonely, the unborn and the abandoned. It also means providing places for people to encounter Jesus in the Mass and the Sacraments, and inviting young men to become priests and women to become sisters.

“It means speaking from America's most famous pulpit for justice and peace, for religious liberty and the sanctity of all human life. It means teaching the Catholic faith in season and out of season, as a good shepherd must,” he continued.

Saying the Archdiocese of New York has the mission to proclaim Jesus Christ to a city, a diocese, a country and a world “in need of his saving love,” Archbishop Dolan concluded:

“That's what a boy from Ballwin will be doing in the Big Apple.

“Thanks for taking me in! God bless you.”

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Four Texas Planned Parenthood clinics found to be illegally performing abortions

Austin, Texas, Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - Allegations that four unlicensed Planned Parenthood facilities in San Antonio have been illegally performing abortions have prompted state legislators to reexamine funding for the organization and to call for legal and administrative penalties to be enforced against it.

On April 2 The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) issued cease and desist orders to the Planned Parenthood Northeast, Southeast, Marbach and Bandera Road Sexual Healthcare facilities. The orders notified the clinics to stop performing “abortion activities” that require licensure by the DSHS.

A letter from DSHS Commissioner Dr. David Lakey, M.D. told Rep. Phil King (R- Weathorford) and ten other legislators that preliminary information from the unlicensed facilities indicated that they were performing medically induced abortions.

Lakey said the DSHS is further investigating activities at the locations. The department is also investigating a licensed Planned Parenthood facility in San Antonio and that it may also become the object of enforcement action.

Additionally, he reported that five more licensed Planned Parenthood facilities have not posted their abortion facility license number in advertisements for their abortion services. Lakey said a Notice of Violation and “appropriate enforcement action” have been initiated against the facilities.

Planned Parenthood responded to the allegations by saying that a state licensing official told their San Antonio office in October 2004 that the clinics didn't need the license as long as they only offered the abortion pill.

According to the American Life League, the investigation resulted from the efforts of San Antonio Coalition for Life (SACL) and the Austin-based Texas Alliance for Life (TAL).

TAL executive director Joe Pojman reacted to the situation in a press release, saying, "We're shocked but not surprised to find that Planned Parenthood has violated the public trust in this manner and is endangering the lives and safety of women.” "We commend these legislators for their vigilance in ensuring that state funds are prevented from being misused and that women's health and safety are not violated."

CNA spoke with Pojman in a Wednesday phone interview.

He said that SACL had done some “great work” by discovering that Planned Parenthood was performing abortions in unlicensed facilities. Pojman explained that his group, Texas Alliance for Life, acquired a list of licensed abortion clinics and noted that the list didn’t include several known abortion facilities.

He said their example could be of help to pro-life advocates in other places. “It’s just a matter of local people really seeing if the rules are being complied with,” he explained.

After discovering the alleged violations, SACL alerted TAL. The statewide organization did its own investigation and brought the matter to the attention of several members of the Texas House of Representatives.

Pojman told CNA the legislators were “very alarmed” that illegal abortions were possibly being performed at unlicensed facilities.

“Once the legislators brought this to the attention of the state health services, the commissioner acted very quickly,” he said, adding that TAL is pleased with the official response “so far.”

Pojman reported that these legislators held a news conference yesterday where they said the alleged violations of law could include criminal penalties. The allegations involve “Class A” misdemeanors which could include jail time.

The legislators called on the district attorney or county prosecutor in Bexar County to pursue the allegations and also called on the DSHS commissioner to fully pursue all administrative penalties.

“Some of the fines include as much as $500 per day, per site,” Pojman told CNA, saying the alleged illegal activity may have been going on at least since September and “probably many months before that.”

He said the case shows that Planned Parenthood has “violated the public trust” and demonstrates that Planned Parenthood “should not be getting state funding in Texas.”

Pojman reported that a debate will soon take place about Texas state funding for Planned Parenthood for family planning and other programs. He conservatively estimated that the organization receives at least $10 million a year.

“They are not good stewards of those dollars,” he argued. Planned Parenthood’s operation of alleged unlicensed abortion facilities, he said, “really demonstrates they aren’t worthy of any further public trust.”

“It’s amazing how blatant Planned Parenthood is. They just thought they could get away with this indefinitely, apparently,” Pojman told CNA.

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President of Thomas Aquinas College dies in car crash in Ireland

Santa Paula, Calif., Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - Thomas Dillon, the president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, died yesterday in a car accident in Ireland.

“On Wednesday, April 15, 2009, Dr. Thomas E. Dillon, the president of Thomas Aquinas College, was killed in an automobile accident in Ireland, where he was traveling with his wife, Terri, on behalf of the college,” the college announced yesterday.

“Mrs. Dillon was only slightly injured and is hospitalized for the time being. Family members and a representative of the College are en route to Ireland to bring Mrs. Dillon back to California and to accompany Dr. Dillon’s body.” 

Mr. Dillon, president of the Catholic college for 18 years, was attending a conference for the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas in Limerick.

He oversaw extensive growth at the college, including a chapel that was dedicated March 7. Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, modeled on a 13th-century Florentine cathedral, was designed to be the physical and spiritual center of the campus.

A Rosary and Mass were offered on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the chapel for the repose of Dr. Dillon’s soul.

Before he was named president, Dillon served as the college's associate dean of student affairs and then became the dean.

In addition to his wife, Dillon is survived by four children and their spouses, Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth, of Massachusetts; Christine Ellis and her husband, Thomas, of Fillmore; Maria Forte and her husband, Domiane, of Santa Paula; Daniel of Santa Paula; and 15 grandchildren.

Information concerning funeral arrangements will be provided by the College.

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Pope Benedict celebrates his 82nd birthday

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, is celebrating his 82nd birthday today at the papal retreat in Castel Gandalfo.


Having completed the exhausting schedule of Holy Week activities, the Holy Father is quietly celebrating his birthday at the apostolic palace.


Yesterday at the weekly General Audience, well wishers sang “Happy Birthday” to the Pope in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatian and Italian. Pope Benedict will also soon be celebrating the anniversary of his election to the papacy, which falls on April 19.


Commenting on the Pope's birthday, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday that he hopes that the Holy Father "may long continue to carry out his ministry, ... helping the men and women of today to find God."


Fr. Lombardi added that the “focus of his concern is to bring mankind to God and God to mankind, through a great personal love for Christ.”


This often means adopting a “critical attitude” towards the numerous negative aspects of today's culture and mentality, but, the press director noted, “in the final analysis the principle message [the Church] wishes to communicate is a message of love, a message for the good of mankind and of the human person; that is, their reconciliation with God and with all the other men and women who live on this earth."


Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, the name with which Benedict XVI was baptized, was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: "The People and House of God in St. Augustine's Doctrine of the Church." Four years later he qualified as a university teacher with a work on St. Bonaventure's theology of history.


After a period of teaching dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, he went on to teach in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Munster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. In that year he was appointed professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and vice president of the same university. In 1962, he made a noteworthy contribution to the work of Vatican Council II as theological consultant to Cardinal Joseph Frings, archbishop of Cologne.


On March 24, 1977, Pope Paul VI appointed him archbishop of Munich and Freising, making him a cardinal on June 27, 1977. In 1981 he was nominated by Pope John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Subsequently he also became president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission, and dean of the College of Cardinals.


He was elected as Pope on April 19, 2005, the second day of the conclave.



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Abortionist's letter contradicts Sebelius' campaign contribution statement

Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - The Kansas-based pro-life organization “Operation Rescue” released on Wednesday a copy of a letter signed by late-term abortionist George R. Tiller, in which he stated that he personally contributed $200,000 to Pro Kan Do, a political action committee he controlled, to defeat Kathleen Sebelius' challenger in the 2002 Kansas gubernatorial race.

In the letter, Tiller also makes a plea for an additional $250,000 to influence the governor's race.

“This letter is the smoking gun showing that Sebelius continues to conceal the full extent of her financial support from Tiller,” said Troy Newman, Operation Rescue President.

“Kathleen Sebelius benefited from the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Tiller personally gave to influence the outcome of the 2002 election in her favor. This letter is undeniable evidence that Sebelius has yet to come clean with the Senate Finance Committee, and with the American people concerning her strong financial ties to abortionist Tiller,” he added.

Sebelius, a Catholic who supports legalized abortion and has been asked not to present herself for Communion by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, was nominated by President Obama to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services after Tom Daschle was found to have skipped paying taxes.

The Kansas governor appeared before the Senate Finance Committee for confirmation hearings on April 2, and then later submitted written answers to questions posed by lawmakers. In a written statement, she told the committee that Tiller had given her $12,450 during her campaign for Insurance Commissioner, but denied any further contributions.

Sebelius later admitted that she received an additional $26,000 in contributions, which had been uncovered by Operation Rescue and verified by the Associated Press.

“People want honesty and transparency in government and Sebelius has proven that they will never get that from her,” Newman remarked.

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Sparrow tells kids about Pope's daily life in new book

Rome, Italy, Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict celebrates his 82nd birthday today, a new children's book called “Max and Benedict” has been published in Italian and German. The book tells the story of Pope Benedict XVI’s life through the eyes of Max the sparrow, who lives in St. Peter's Square. 
The author of the book, Jeanne Perego, also wrote “Joseph and the Boy” two years ago, in which a cat—the Pope’s favorite pet—recounted the life of Joseph Ratzinger from his childhood to his election as Pontiff.
A writer and journalist who splits her time between Italy and the German region of Bavaria, Perego’s new book features a sparrow who lives in St. Peter’s Square and tells visitors what Pope Benedict XVI’s life is like.
The new book begins with an introduction of the main character: “I’m Max, a lonely sparrow, a blue bird who likes to live where it is cold.”
Max, who has taken his name from the abbreviations that crown the Vatican basilica (“Pont. Max,” or Supreme Pontiff), responds to the questions of curious visitors to St. Peter’s and explains the Holy Father’s life of service to the Church.

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Cardinal Bertone stresses urgent need to help Christians in the Holy Land

Rome, Italy, Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - Upon receiving an award from the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone underscored the urgent need to materially and spiritually sustain Christians in the Holy Land.
In his acceptance speech, the cardinal pointed to the need to “sustain those who still remain there witnessing to the glorious roots of the Christian life in the Holy Land.”
In this sense, he praised the work of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, made up of 24,000 members throughout the world and led by Cardinal John Patrick Foley.  The order works to be  constantly attentive to the needs of Christians in the Holy Land, in collaboration with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
After recalling that many Pontiffs, including Pope Benedict XVI, have always praised the work of the order, Cardinal Bertone underscored that “the love for the Holy Land is an invitation to grow in the faith and love of Christ.”
He encouraged the members of the order to pass on their commitment and passion to the new generations.  “I think of the rich human, moral and spiritual patrimony of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, who through the centuries have maintained the original spirit of defenders of the faith and the Church.”
Cardinal Tarcisio also called on the members of the order to accompany the Pope with their prayers during his journey to the Holy Land in May.
In his speech, Cardinal John Foley underscored the many works of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, including their support of the priests and religious in 68 parishes, financial support for the Seminary of Beit Jala and for the 38 schools operated by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (23 in Jordan, 12 in the Palestinian territory and 3 in Israel).

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Georgetown students react to White House request to cover Jesus' name

Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - Georgetown University’s decision to comply with a White House request to cover up the “IHS” monogram representing Jesus' name at President Obama’s speech on Wednesday is drawing fire from the Cardinal Newman Society and Georgetown students, who are charging the university with “sacrificing” its “Catholic and Jesuit identity.”

Reports surfaced today from attendees at President Obama's speech on the economy that the White House asked Georgetown University to cover up several emblems, including an IHS monogram above the president's head during his speech at the Jesuit university.

Although President Obama focused his speech on his administration’s plans to spur economic growth, some in attendance noticed that the IHS monogram—an early 3rd century abbreviation for the name of Jesus—was covered up for the speech.

CNA attempted to confirm the report with Georgetown officials, but no one available for comment before press time.

However, Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at the university, told that the covering up of Jesus' name was prompted by “logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event.”  According to Bataille, “Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage.”

She said the “signage and symbols” were covered up because “the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross” and that it seemed more “respectful to have them covered” so that viewers wouldn’t see them “out of context.”

Patrick Reilly, the President of the Cardinal Newman Society, reacted to the report by telling CNA that Georgetown’s decision is another “outrageous example of a Catholic university sacrificing principle for prestige.”

He wondered what the White House will request next month at Notre Dame’s commencement and said, “Christians simply cannot hide our faith in a drawer to satisfy an American president who shows no respect for Catholic identity or values.”

Georgetown students were also outraged by the University’s actions.

Paul Courtney, a Catholic Georgetown student and President of the Georgetown College Republicans, was an attendee at the Wednesday speech. He called the move “disheartening” and “sad” that the University would sacrifice its “Catholic and Jesuit identity” by covering the monogram.

Courtney didn’t notice that the symbol was covered, and explained that “one of my professors pointed it out to me afterwards when we were discussing the event.”

Courtney hypothesized that the White House made the request because, “President Obama didn't want any symbols to appear in the photo that might suggest that there's any higher authority than him.”

Last year, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at Georgetown and “none of the stage was shrouded,” added Courtney.

CNA attempted to reach Georgetown’s College Democrats for comment, but they were also not available in time for publication.

Another Catholic student, Dave Gregory, who heads the Knights of Columbus council at Georgetown, said the University has covered up religious imagery for “High Holy Days and non-Catholic religious services” on the “infrequent occasion” that the services are held in Gaston Hall, the site of Obama’s speech.

Gregory told CNA that President Obama's visit was “by no means contingent upon the covering of the IHS,” saying that he strongly doubted that “Obama's staff would have canceled the event.”

Georgetown’s decision to cover up the symbol did not surprise Gregory either, who said he thought it is “a bit shameful that they did so, as Georgetown has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”

Gregory said he believes that the White House and Georgetown’s administration are just trying to “produce excuses and rationalize their inappropriate decision,” and that he would not be surprised if there is more to the matter than is being shared with the media.

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Bolivian bishops deplore attack on cardinal’s residence

La Paz, Bolivia, Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - In a statement issued April 15, the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia lamented “the criminal attack this morning on the residence of Cardinal Julio Terrazas in the city of Santa Cruz,” which destroyed part of the entrance but fortunately did not injure anyone.
The incident “reflects an attitude of intolerance and of recourse to violence that attacks the principles of democratic peaceful coexistence in our country.  Violence as an action is never an acceptable means, it never brings any solution to human relationships and it is rejected by God.”
The bishops therefore called on officials to redouble their efforts to apprehend those responsible for the incident and to uncover the motives “that led them to commit this crime.”
“An attack on the residence of the cardinal is also an affront against the cardinal himself, his dignity and his leadership as head of the Catholic Church in Bolivia, and therefore, against the Catholic Church herself.  For this reason, the bishops’ conference expresses its closeness and solidarity with Cardinal Julio and his close associates and assures them of their prayers.”
The bishops also reiterated that “the Catholic Church will continue fulfilling its prophetic work of evangelization, rejecting all forms of violence and contributing human and Christian principles and values that strengthen the rule of law and peaceful coexistence between Bolivians.”

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NY Gov. introduces same-sex ‘marriage’ bill day after archbishop's installation

New York City, N.Y., Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - New York Gov. David Paterson on Thursday introduced a bill to permit same-sex “marriages” to be contracted in the state, claiming it to be a “civil rights issue” and the “right way” spiritually. One Democratic Senator who is organizing opposition to the measure called the bill “a laugh in the face” of New York City’s new archbishop.

According to the Associated Press, Gov. Paterson defended his action before a news conference in Manhattan.

“Anyone that has ever experienced degradation or intolerance would understand the solemn duty and how important it actually is,” he said. “This is a civil rights issue. Civil rights don't wait for the right time.”

The governor, who said he was baptized a Catholic, said the proposal was the “right way” from a spiritual standpoint.

In 2007 the Democrat-controlled New York legislature’s lower house, the Assembly, passed a same-sex “marriage” bill by an 85 to 61 vote, but it was not put to a vote in the state Senate.

The Assembly is expected to again pass the bill. The Senate is now controlled by Democrats for the first time in more than 40 years. However, their 32 senators only slightly outnumber the 30 Republicans in that body.

At least one Democratic Senator, Sen. Ruben Diaz, has said he opposes Gov. Paterson’s measure.

Sen. Diaz, an evangelical pastor from the Bronx, said it was disrespectful of the governor to introduce the legislation in the same week that Catholics celebrated the installation of the new Archbishop of New York City Timothy Dolan.

Commenting ahead of yesterday's installation, Diaz said, "If I were Governor Paterson, I would abstain from going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the welcoming ceremony and to celebrate Mass."

On Thursday he met with religious leaders to discuss how to defeat the bill. According to the senator's website, the meeting’s aim was to inform Hispanics, Catholics, evangelicals and others opposed to same-sex “marriage” of his opposition to the proposal and of ways to prevent the bill’s passage.

"I think it's a laugh in the face of the new archbishop," Sen. Diaz said before the meeting. "The Jews just finished their holy week. The Catholics just received the new archbishop. The evangelical Christians just celebrated Good Friday and resurrection. He comes out to do this at this time? It's a challenge the governor is sending to every religious person in New York and the time for us has come for us to accept the challenge."

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who supports the measure, said he does not think the bill has enough votes to pass.

A March poll from Marist College showed the governor’s job approval rating was at 26 percent, the Associated Press says.

CNA contacted the Archdiocese of New York on Thursday but was told its spokesman was unavailable.

Speaking before his April 15 installation as archbishop, Archbishop Dolan told a press conference that in his first day in office he would meet with advisers to discuss the most effective way to communicate the positions of the Catholic Church on “controversial moral issues.”

He said he would continue to “preach the truth” and “apply the immutable teachings of Jesus and his Church to contemporary situations,” including same-sex marriage.

While rejecting the “bully pulpit” label as having aggressive and bitter connotations, he stressed he will not “shy away from [controversial topics] and won’t sidestep them.” He promised to articulate the Church’s position and remain “active and present” on principles related to faith and morals.

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Canadian Catholic and indigenous leaders to meet with Pope Benedict

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 16, 2009 (CNA) - On April 29 Pope Benedict XVI will meet with a delegation of aboriginal representatives from Canada along with representatives of Canadian Catholic dioceses and religious communities. A leading Canadian archbishop expressed hope the meeting would show a “renewed partnership and a new beginning” between the Catholic and indigenous communities.

Among the delegation will be Chief Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will also be part of the meeting.

“During the meeting the Pope will express concern for aboriginal peoples in Canada who continue to suffer from the impact of the former Indian Residential Schools, the majority of which were managed by a number of Catholic dioceses and religious orders,” a press release form the CCCB said.

At a Wednesday press conference at the Ottawa offices of the Assembly of First Nations, in the presence of Chief Fontaine, Archbishop Weisgerber said that the meeting with Pope Benedict would serve as a witness to the “mutual determination” of the Catholic Church of Canada and the First Nations for a renewed partnership and a new beginning.

Saying there has been a “close association” between the indigenous people of Canada and the Catholic Church since the first European settlements five centuries ago, Archbishop Weisgerber said most of that history has been “a wonderful sharing of faith and witness” but that it also contained “moments of sorrow.”

He described the Indian Residential Schools as among the “greatest disappointment” of that history.

“Certainly, there were many examples of great dedication in the efforts at the time to provide a good education for indigenous children; this generosity and goodwill involved school staff, including men and women religious from Catholic missionary orders; elders and parents, and the children themselves.

“At the same time, there were also terrible challenges, including important cultural differences, insufficient government funding, and human failings, and worst of all instances of exploitation and cruelty. From today’s perspective, we are all very conscious of the tragic limitations of the Residential Schools, especially from the perspectives of family life, community values, and cultural heritage.”

He said that indigenous Canadian peoples continue to be “marginalized and impoverished” and called for “sustained efforts” to work with indigenous people “to assure them of respect, acceptance and equality.”

The archbishop noted that National Chief Fontaine invited the Catholic bishops to join with aboriginal peoples in a new partnership. His invitation resulted in the mobilization of Catholic dioceses, religious orders, Church organizations and other Catholic agencies.

Turning to the upcoming meeting with Pope Benedict, Archbishop Weisgerber said:

“The Pope is a bridge builder. That is the meaning of the word ‘Pontiff.’ For that reason, he has invited us to visit him in Rome, in a gesture of reconciliation and healing. By accepting this invitation, as representatives of the Catholic Church in Canada and of the First Nations we can show and celebrate our mutual determination for a renewed partnership and a new beginning.”

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