Archive of April 17, 2009

Archbishop reminds protesting Chilean workers of moral failure in economic crisis

Santiago, Chile, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Concepcion in Chile said this week the global economic crisis has profound moral roots and that economic leaders around the world should “use their intelligence to seek the truth that leads to true development.”

In response to protests by workers in downtown Santiago against massive layoffs, the archbishop explained that the crisis is the result of disregard for the ethics and morality that should guide the managing of finances and the economy.

“If I look at the origins of this crisis and I analyze the first and fundamental fact, I find an action that is immoral: speculating with money that belongs to others; huge investments with no foundation and backing; the desire to profit at the expense of others,” the archbishop said.

“It can be said with certainty,” he continued, “that this crisis was foretold by Pope Benedict XVI one year earlier in his encyclical ‘Spe salvi,’ when he warned that the foundation upon which the growth and development of the world was being carried out was erroneous and would lead to failure.”

According to Archbishop Ezzati, “The moral crisis is due to a crisis of faith in human intelligence, because human reason is called to seek the truth, as an ethical obligation. But it is not enough to find it, it must also be followed. For this reason, the leaders of the world economy have a great task, that of using their intelligence to seek the truth that leads to true development.”

Some twelve thousand workers marched through the streets of downtown Santiago on Thursday protesting massive layoffs and demanding more aid from the government.

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Parish choir singer Susan Boyle becomes overnight sensation

London, England, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - A middle-aged Scottish woman who sang in her Catholic parish’s choir for decades has become an internet sensation after a stunning performance on a British talent show.

Susan Boyle, 47, appeared on the show Britain’s Got Talent before judges and a live audience skeptical of her ambition, her age and her plain appearance.

The audience laughed derisively when she said she wanted to follow the example of West End star singer Elaine Paige.

However, Boyle’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les Miserables won over the crowd and the judges.

Her performance was broadcast on April 11, the day before Easter. A video of her performance posted on YouTube on the same day had received more than 13 million views as of Thursday afternoon.

Boyle, reportedly a devoted Catholic from Blackburn in West Lothian, was born with a learning disability but dreamed of becoming a professional singer, the Times Online says.

She credits her mother for advancing her musical education.

“I was always musical - yelling when I was a baby, singing into a brush and singing in the shower,” she told Deadline Scotland.

“It was my mum who got me into singing properly - she knew I had to do something with my voice because she knew I was talented.

“She was the one that pushed me into joining a choir all those years ago, when I was about 12. I remember she told me to start with the choir and just see where it took me,” she added, saying it was hard to believe her success.

Boyle limited her singing to church choir and karaoke in order to care for her aging mother, the Times says. She stopped singing after her mother died two years ago.

“I thought I would take a break - it seemed appropriate,” she told the Times.

Boyle, one of eight siblings, has never married and claims she has never been kissed.

Discussing the Britain’s Got Talent audience’s initial hostility, she said “Modern society is too quick to judge people on their appearances.”

“There is not much you can do about it; it is the way they think; it is the way they are. But maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example.”

According to the Washington Post, Boyle received a standing ovation at her parish’s Easter Sunday Mass.

"We let out a wee bit of a cheer for her. We are quite proud of her," Boyle's parish priest, the Rev. Ryszard Holuka, said in a telephone interview. He described Boyle as a "quiet soul."

"At gatherings and anniversary parties, she'd stand up and give a song," he said. "She never flaunted her voice; this is the first time it's been publicly recognized."

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Colleagues praise life of Thomas Aquinas College president

CNA STAFF, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - Friends and admirers of Thomas Aquinas College president Thomas Dillon gave thanks for his life’s work and expressed condolences to his family following news of his death in a car accident in Ireland.

He and his wife Terri, who suffered minor injuries in the accident, were traveling in Ireland on behalf of the college. They were attending a conference for the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas in Limeric.

Dillon, 62, had been president Thomas Aquinas College for 18 years.

Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson, president of St. Thomas More College in Merrimack, New Hampshire, said the college was “saddened” by his passing but celebrated his “remarkable” life.

“Tom will be remembered as a builder of the Church in America through his tireless labors to secure Thomas Aquinas College as a permanent institution of academic excellence and fidelity. He was a generous counselor to many of his peers in Catholic higher education. He was a champion of the revival of small-scale, Socratic liberal arts education, and was a gifted teacher and administrator. Our prayers are with his wife, Terry, his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren. I am confident that today he is enjoying the eternal love and peace of the Risen Jesus."

The college will offer a Mass for the repose of Dillon’s soul on Monday.

Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), offered “heartfelt” condolences on behalf of the organization’s directors, staff and friends.

“Dr. Dillon was one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the new wave of authentic Catholic higher education in the United States,” Reilly said. “What he achieved at Thomas Aquinas College is truly remarkable, culminating with last month’s consecration of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, now the magnificent centerpiece of the college’s campus and a clear indication of Dr. Dillon’s primary motivation as an educator and college leader.

“Under Dr. Dillon’s leadership, Thomas Aquinas College rose to the top of national college rankings. Dr. Dillon courageously rejected secularization and popular trends that have contributed to the decline of American higher education. Instead, the college’s rigorous Great Books program has been admired by educators worldwide.”

Reilly described Dillon as “kind, gracious, intelligent, determined” and “irrepressibly proud” of Thomas Aquinas College students, faculty and staff.

He said that Dillon’s commitment to Catholic teaching and practice were “essential” to CNS’ decision to recommend the college as a model Catholic institution in its book “The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.”

“May God grant Thomas Aquinas College a new patron in His eternal care,” Reilly concluded.

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Notre Dame alumni withholding donations in protest

Dearborn, Mich., Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - A coalition of alumni and financial supporters of the University of Notre Dame have launched an effort to withhold donations until university president Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, is replaced. The coalition claimed Fr. Jenkins’ decision to honor President Barack Obama and “other regrettable decisions over the years” showed his judgment to be questionable.

The coalition has launched a website,, to urge supporters to withhold contributions to the Notre Dame General Fund until President Jenkins is replaced with someone who is “committed to the authentic identity of Notre Dame, grounded in the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Joe DiFranco, ND Class of 1957 and coalition representative, explained the effort in a statement:

“Although we love Notre Dame, our conscience requires that we withhold all financial support from our University until such time as Father Jenkins is replaced as Notre Dame’s President with someone who will be more loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church. His decision to honor President Obama, together with other regrettable decisions over the years, calls into question Father Jenkins’ judgment and leadership.”

He described the intiative as “the voice of thousands of Notre Dame supporters who are outraged by the decision to honor President Obama, and have no other recourse other than to stop donating.”

“Alumni and supporters of Notre Dame who for years have proudly donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University deserve better,” continued DiFranco.

A statement from cited President Obama’s order to allow taxpayer funding for “embryo-killing research” whose “reckless nature,” the coalition claimed, “shocked even some ‘progressive’ religious leaders.”

The coalition also objected to President Obama’s rescindment of the Mexico City Policy, his funding for the United Nations Population Fund, and his administration’s proposal to rescind conscience protection rules for medical professionals. asked alumni and supporters to support campus pro-life organizations such as the Center for Ethics and Culture or the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Life.

“Donations to these University-sanctioned groups through the University will benefit the pro-life cause at Notre Dame, but will not go into the General Fund,” its statement explained.

“We will continue our efforts as long as it is necessary to bring about positive change at Notre Dame that will honor ‘Our Lady’s’ University,” the group said.

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U.S. Bishops urge Obama not to blame migrants for border violence

Washington D.C., Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Bishops released a statement today asking President Obama to consider that “migrants are not responsible for the drug violence” on the border. Bishop Wester said that “criminals, smugglers, corrupt officials and drug and arms dealers on both sides” of the border are the cause of violence, not those seeking jobs in the United States.

President Obama who was in Mexico for less than 24 hours, met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón to discuss the increasing drug and border violence.

Border violence has escalated in the past several months as feuding drug lords have stepped up their attacks. During the last two years, over 10,000 murders have been attributed to drug-related violence.

John C. Wester, the Bishop of Salt Lake City and the chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Migration, said, “Immigration is not simply a domestic issue, but also one of foreign affairs.”

“The relationship between President Obama and Mexican President Calderón may hold the key to many problems impacting the United States and Mexico domestically—drug-related violence and the economy, for sure, but also immigration,” he added. 

On the topic of the immigration debate, Bishop Wester said that the issue is surrounded by many misperceptions, one of them being that the “passage of an immigration reform bill by Congress would be 'the magic bullet that slays the dragon of illegal immigration.'”

He emphasized that “while such a bill is indispensable to a long-term solution and must be acted upon—sooner rather than later—it should be understood that the humane and lasting answer to this vexing social issue lies in regional, if not global, cooperation among nation-states.”

“Enforcement is not the only solution to illegal immigration, reform of laws should be included,” Wester said and stressed that both the U.S. and Mexico need to cooperate on the root causes of migration.

Wester also pointed to the irony that migrants play a vital role in turning “capital into profit” in most developed countries, but enjoy little “legal protection” and are often “blamed for myriad social ills.”

“As a result, the United States receives the benefit of their toil and taxes without having to worry about protecting their rights, either in the courtroom or the workplace,” said the bishop.  “When convenient, they are made political scapegoats and attacked—both rhetorically and through worksite raids,” he remarked.

Wester said that the Mexican government benefits as well since “up to $20 billion” flows from workers in the U.S. back to their families in Mexico. The result, he said, is a “go north” policy which “exposes Mexican citizens to the ravages of human smugglers, corrupt law enforcement officials, and potential death in the desert.”

The biggest losers of the “globalization game are the migrants” because they have “no political power” and cannot “defend themselves from inevitable abuse and exploitation.”

A humane approach to immigration reform that considers these issues would help reduce violence on the border by creating a legal system that regulates the flow of migrant labor into the United States, Bishop Wester argued. 

This solution would allow, according to Wester, a “better focus on drug and human smugglers” who are the real source of violence on the border.

Bishop Wester also cautioned against those who try to send the wrong message about the drug violence at the border.

“Migrants are not responsible for the drug violence on the border—criminals, smugglers, corrupt officials, drugs and arms dealers on both sides are. Both presidents should make a clear statement to this regard,” he said.

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John Paul II’s ‘Rule’ for married couples discovered, published by newspaper

Rome, Italy, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - In its Thursday printed edition, the Italian daily Il Messagero published an unknown booklet written by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1968 to help married couples in his Polish diocese implement the Encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” released that same year by Pope Paul VI.

The text, entitled “Rule for Spouses,” was never made public outside the Archdiocese of Krakow, but was recently discovered by a student from the John Paul II Institute for Life and Family in Rome.

The booklet will be officially presented on April 24, but on Thursday Il Messagero published a full version in Italian, as well as Wojtyla’s introduction to the Rule on its website (in Italian).

“In the future Polish Pope’s observation,” Il Messagero writes, “there is a prophetic concern for the crisis of values that affects the destiny of Western civilization and its models.”

In his introduction, Wojtyla wrote that “the present Rule sprouts from a series of pastoral experiences with some married couples and, at the same time, from the marriage experience of couples themselves.”

The Rule, he wrote, “is born simultaneously with the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which proposes to spouses and their pastors the Gospel’s demand for authentically Christian marriages.”

The future Pope also suggested that groups of spouses who apply the Rule can take the name “Humanae Vitae.”

“The Rule is aimed at married couples in their entirety and not to spouses as individuals. It is important, indeed, that it is adopted and put in practice by the couple, not solely the husbands or wives without the commitment of their spouses.”

The future Pope John Paul explains that “the specific goal of the Humanae Vitae groups is the continuing commitment toward a spiritual perspective, so that the integral teachings of Christ our Lord about marriage and family, announced by the Church, may become real in their marriages, with a full understanding and full love.”

“Therefore, it is about creating an adequate spirituality, that is to say, an interior life, that will allow the organization of marriage and family life in a Christian way,” Cardinal Wojtyla adds.

“Such spirituality cannot exist in a definitive manner based on the model of religious congregations, but must be constantly reworked,” the introduction concludes.

Announcements regarding an English translation of the “Rule for Spouses,” have not yet been made.

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Pope’s childhood home on display to mark his 82nd birthday

Berlin, Germany, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - In order to mark Pope Benedict XVI’s 82nd birthday, which he celebrated on Thursday, a special exhibit was inaugurated at the home where the Pontiff was born in Marktl am Inn, Germany.
Entitled, “Where I Am Truly At Home: The Homeland and Pope Benedict XVI,” the exhibit centers on the domestic aspects of the life of Joseph Ratzinger and on his concept of “homeland” as the land that inspires and gives identity.
The childhood home of the Holy Father was bought by a private foundation soon after the Pontiff was elected. The exhibit includes documents and objects that belonged to both Joseph and his older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger.
Residents of the town who remember growing up with the Pope share their stories and memories of those days as well.

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Belgian ambassador to Holy See told to condemn Pope's condom remarks

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - Wednesday, April 15 saw an unusual meeting take place as the Ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See delivered an official condemnation of the Pope's remarks on the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in Africa from his country's House of Representatives.

Ambassador Frank de Coninck was ordered by the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs to lodge the official condemnation with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States.

In reaction to the move, the Vatican Secretariat of State said it "notes with regret this action, unusual in the context of the diplomatic relations existing between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Belgium."

The Vatican also said it "deplores the fact that a Parliamentary Assembly should have thought it appropriate to criticize the Holy Father on the basis of an isolated extract from an interview, separated from its context, and used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate, as if to dissuade the Pope from expressing himself on certain themes of obvious moral relevance and from teaching the Church’s doctrine."

The Secretariat of State also pointed out that the Pope did more than make remarks on the effectiveness of using condoms. Pope Benedict, the Vatican recalled, offered a two prong plan for combating the AIDS crisis. The first part involves "bringing out the human dimension of sexuality," and the second consists of convincing people to offer "true friendship and willingness to help persons who are suffering."

But all of this was passed over by the media as it unleashed a firestorm of criticism, particularly in Europe, the Vatican charged.

Amidst the oftentimes harsh criticism, the Secretariat of State pointed out that it found consolation in the fact that "the moral considerations articulated by the Holy Father were understood and appreciated, in particular by the Africans and the true friends of Africa, as well as by some members of the scientific community."

Numerous members of the African medical community, many with experience combating AIDS, as well as some American experts spoke out in favor of the Pope's words at the time.

Dr. Edward Green, a Senior Harvard Researcher for AIDS Prevention, told CNA that science is finding that the media is actually on the wrong side of the issue. In fact, Green said that not only do condoms not work, but that they may be "exacerbating the problem" in Africa.

In today's statement, the Vatican also noted that the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (CERAO) also welcomed the Pope's words.

"We are grateful for the message of hope which [the Holy Father] came to entrust to us in Cameroon and Angola. He came to encourage us to live in unity, reconciled with one another in justice and peace, so that the Church in Africa can herself be a burning flame of hope for the life of the entire continent. And we thank him for having restated for all, in a nuanced, clear and insightful way, the common teaching of the Church concerning the pastoral care of sufferers from AIDS."

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Venezuelan bishop: 'I am not afraid of threats'

Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Rafael Conde of Maracay in Venezuela rejected threats made against him this week by members of the party of President Hugo Chavez and said the bishops in that country would continue working without fear to achieve a climate of dialogue.

Members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela threatened the bishop over his criticism of the recent decision by the government to condemn three police officers who were accused of the crime of opposing the ideological decisions of the government.

Party members have also demanded the all the bishops of Venezuela be put on trial for “contempt of the authority” of Chavez.

“I do not fear the actions that government officials might take,” said Bishop Conde, who announced that the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference “has tried to speak with authorities of the executive branch to establish a roundtable dialogue, but up to now that has been impossible.”

“The Church without fear only works for the common good of the country,” the bishop said. He announced that in the coming days, the bishops’ conference would meet to discuss various issues, including the growing political tension.

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Archbishop calls for Day Against Child Slavery to be dedicated to memory of Catholic boy

Madrid, Spain, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - In a recent pastoral letter, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Sevilla and the Apostolic Administrator of Cordoba, Juan Jose Ansenjo Pelegrina, called for “the eradication of child slavery” and said April 16 “should be declared the International Day Against Child Slavery throughout the world” in memory of the Pakistani boy Iqbal Masih, who was killed in 1995.

The archbishop reminded the faithful that children in slavery “need our compassion, solidarity and commitment in order to bring about their liberation.”

“The Church has always been mother and teacher at the service of the poor and the forgotten, especially children,” he said. “Pope Benedict XVI,” he continued, “has reminded us of our baptismal commitment to serve the least of the earth, who bear in their faces the sufferings of the Crucified one, and among whom the 400 million child slaves occupy an important place.”

The archbishop recalled the Pakistani boy Iqbal Masih who was killed on April 16, 1995, for fighting against child slavery, and he called on the faithful “to pray and work” for “the eradication of this social scourge.”

The anniversary of Iqbal’s death, he said, should “be declared throughout the world as the International Day Against Child Slavery.”

Iqbal Masih

Iqbal Masih was born in 1982 in Pakistan. At the age of four his father sold him as a slave to a carpet factory for 600 rupees—roughly 12 dollars—to pay for the wedding of his eldest son. From that moment, Iqbal was forced to work 12-hour days chained to a gridiron and subjected to constant beatings.

At the age of 10 he managed to escape from the factory, but the inhumane conditions in which he had been living had ravaged his body. At the age of 12 he had the height and weight of a 6 year-old.

After his escape, with the help of some brick-layer unions, he spent his time denouncing the abuse of Pakistani children. He became known internationally and visited Sweden and the United States, becoming a child leader.

On April 16, 1995, Iqbal, a Catholic child in a majority Muslim country, attended Palm Sunday Mass. That afternoon he went for a ride on his bicycle in his hometown near Lahore. He was shot to death by the carpet manufacturer mafia, which has been accused of the crime.

On the day of his death, Iqbal was carrying a Bible and a book on Easter in his knapsack, with a picture of Jesus. This Pakistani boy is considered the symbol of the fight against child exploitation.

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Palin encourages ‘culture of life’ at pro-life charity banquet

Evansville, Ind., Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - Addressing the largest U.S. Right to Life banquet, Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin spoke of the miracle of life and urged the audience to speak out on pro-life issues.

On Thursday evening at the Vanderburgh County Right to Life banquet in Indiana, Palin thanked the estimated crowd of 3,000 for their generosity and contributions to the pro-life movement before telling them the story of her youngest son, Trig, who was born nearly one year ago.

When Palin, a strong pro-life advocate, was 13 weeks pregnant, she found out Trig would be born with Down syndrome.  “It was a serious time of testing,” she explained.  “A time when I had to ask myself, ‘am I just going to talk the talk, or walk the walk?'”

She was nervous about how everything would work out.  Palin, 44, was a busy governor with four active children and was concerned that she could not give the baby what he would need.

For a fleeting moment, she told the audience, she considered an abortion, however instead she turned to prayer.

“I had just enough faith to know that trying to change the circumstances wasn’t any answer,” she said.  She continued to pray that she would be able to meet the challenges of the new baby and that she could give him all he needed.

"The moment he was born, I knew that moment my prayers had been answered, and my heart overflowed with joy." Palin said. “I felt a love I had never felt before…he has brought so much happiness.”

"I know for sure my son is perfect just as he is, and I do believe he was made in the image of God," she continued.

As a culture, we need to embrace life, Palin continued.  Our “children are perfect gifts, not burdens!”

She then urged the pro-lifers in attendance to make their voices heard.  It is important to speak up and remind everyone that we are proud to be Americans because we believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Also speaking at the event was Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, whose contradictory comments on abortion caused the local Catholic bishop to not attend.

Although Bishop Gerald Gettelsfinger is an annual participant in the charity event, he announced last month that he would not be attending due to Steele’s “soft” language when he addressed the topic of abortion with the magazine GQ.

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Holy See spokesman condemns attack against Bolivian cardinal’s residence

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2009 (CNA) - The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, has condemned the attack on the home of the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, and said it was a “grave act” that reveals “unacceptable violence.”

“This episode manifests an attitude that is prone to violence that harms respect for freedom and therefore, we unite ourselves with the bishops of Bolivia in the most firm condemnation,” the priest said.

Speaking to the Notimex news agency, Father Lombardi said the attack was a grave act. “Of course we manifest all of our solidarity with Cardinal Terrazas for this act of unacceptable violence,” he stated.

On Wednesday morning a bomb exploded at the entrance to the cardinal’s residence in Santa Cruz, damaging the premises and neighboring buildings. The cardinal was recovering from surgery at the time at another location.

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