Archive of April 18, 2009

Archbishop for Military Services spends Easter with troops in Iraq

Al Asad, Iraq, Apr 18, 2009 (CNA) - At the invitation of General Ray Odierno, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services arrived in Al Asad Iraq earlier this month to spend Holy Week and Easter with the military and civilian personnel stationed there. 


After touring the base, Catholic Mass was celebrated mid-morning at Al Asad's Memorial Chapel and followed by lunch at the base dining facility. In order to travel through the country, Archbishop Broglio wore a ballistic vest and toured in a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.


Speaking to civilian and military personnel, Archbishop Broglio said "One of the difficulties of being archbishop of an archdiocese over which the sun never sets is that it is very difficult to come into contact with all the members of the faithful, so every opportunity I have to visit you is very precious."


His is a diocese without geographic boundaries. He is responsible for the pastoral care of 375,000 military personnel, 900,000 family members, and 300,000 Coast Guard and reserve personnel stationed overseas, within the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. 


Thirty-five military archdioceses exist in countries around the world. Nine of those were established by the great Pope John Paul II, including the Archdiocese for Military Services USA in 1985. Ordained an archbishop in March of 2001 by Pope John Paul II, Broglio was later appointed to lead the AMS in November 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.  He brings 32 years of diplomatic service to his global ministry and speaks four languages fluently.


"I want to say a word of thanks for the opportunity to visit you today and learn a bit more of what goes on in this part of the world," he said to those who welcomed him at Al Asad. "I appreciate the contribution you're making to the future of this country, and it is certainly a pleasure to visit you."


Even as a gifted linguist, the Archbishop admits to wrestling with military acronyms and lingo. During a tour mid February 2009 to Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, he admitted "the toughest challenges are the terminology and how different each of the five branches are. My responsibility to the people foremost is pastoral, how they are attended to as Catholics, but learning the military culture is constant."


Spending time in Iraq has been a consideration of his for some time. In addition to security issues, there was also the concern that troops would be pulled away "from someplace where, frankly, I think they might be more necessary." Now it seems appropriate the Archbishop for Military Services has arrived in Iraq during Holy Week to stay and minister to the troops there through Easter.


During a second afternoon Mass, Archbishop Broglio acknowledged to those service members and civilians deployed to Iraq: "You all know about sacrifice. It is something precious to put your lives on the line, and that's an irreplaceable gift."


Lt. Cmdr. William Payne, a Methodist chaplain, commented on the significance of the Archbishops pastoral visit.  "It is very important for service members to feel connected to their church and their faith. The archbishop embodies the church, and is a visible way by which many sense the presence of God."


"His visit was well received and our Marines and sailors were ecstatic to see and meet the archbishop," remarked Navy LT Ulysses Ubalde, a Catholic chaplain serving with Regimental Combat Team 8. "I was personally blessed and grateful to see our archbishop visiting us here in Iraq because this shows me how much he really cares for and loves our men and women in uniform."


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Women religious leadership conference faces investigation for continued ‘problems’

Toledo, Ohio, Apr 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is being investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith because of the “tenor and doctrinal content” of various addresses at the organization’s annual assemblies since 2001. One such address described “moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus” as “the dynamic option” for religious life.

According to its web site, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has more than 1,500 members representing about 95 percent of the 59,000 women religious in the U.S.

Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), announced the doctrinal review in a letter, the National Catholic Reporter says.

He noted that officials from the LCWR had met with the CDF in 2001. The officials were invited to report on LCWR members’ reception of Church teaching on the sacramental priesthood, the CDF document Dominus Iesus and “the problem of homosexuality.”

Dominus Iesus, published by the CDF in 2000 under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, emphasized the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and established the differences between the Catholic Church and other religions. The document stated that only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the Christian faith.

“Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this Dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present,” Cardinal Levada said in his letter.

The Catholic Key reported that the keynote address at the LCWR 2007 annual assembly has aroused “particular concern and discussion.”

In that keynote, titled “A Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century,” Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink commented on the decline of many religious orders. She characterized some successful new orders as being “acquiescent” to others’ expectations and also discussed the possible future of women religious.

She described a “sojourning congregation” as “the dynamic option for Religious Life.”

In Sister Laurie’s words, such a congregation involves “moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus.”

“A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion. Its search for the Holy may have begun rooted in Jesus as the Christ, but deep reflection, study and prayer have opened it up to the spirit of the Holy in all of creation. Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian.”

She described the Benedictine Women of Madison as having a commitment to “ecumenism” which led them “beyond the exclusivity of the Catholic Church into a new inclusivity, where all manner of seeking God is welcomed. They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. They choose as a congregation to step outside the Church in order to step into a greater sense of holiness. Theirs was a choice of integrity, insight and courage.”

Cardinal Levada said that the assessment of the LCWR will be conducted by Bishop of Toledo, Ohio Leonard P. Blair. Bishop Blair is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

Cardinal Levada said Bishop Blair’s principal purpose would be to “review the work of the LCWR in supporting its membership as communities of faith and witness to Christ in today’s church, and to offer any useful assistance.”

CNA contacted Sally Oberski, Director of Communications at the Diocese of Toledo, for further comment on the investigation.

Reiterating Cardinal Levada’s description of Bishop Blair’s work, she said in a Friday e-mail:

“Bishop Blair has been in contact with the leadership of the LCWR, and has nothing further to add at this time."

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CBS to air movie on 'courageous' Polish Catholic who rescued Jewish children

New York City, N.Y., Apr 18, 2009 (CNA) - On Sunday evening CBS will broadcast a movie about the heroic efforts and “courageous heart” of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who created and led an underground group that rescued Jewish children from Nazi persecution.

Sendler created and led a conspiracy of women who moved in and out of Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto disguised as nurses. While saying that they were simply to prevent and contain the spread of Typhus and Spotted Fever, Sendler and her companions helped the children of consenting Jewish parents escape imminent deportation to death camps, CBS' website says.

The children were sometimes sedated and hidden inside boxes, suitcases and coffins to escape the ghetto. They were given new identities and placed with Polish families and in convents.

Sendler kept a hidden record of the children’s birth names and locations in hopes that they could be reunited with their families. About 2,500 children were smuggled to safety, with none being discovered by the Nazis.

After the Nazis discovered her operation in 1943, Sendler was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet. On the day of her execution, she was rescued by the underground network “Zegota,” with which she had worked to save Jewish children.

She kept a Divine Mercy holy card from her prison cell until 1979, when she gave the card to Pope John Paul II as a gift.

CBS will broadcast “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, on Sunday, April 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. It will star Anna Paquin as Irena while her mother will be played by Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden.

Nathaniel Parker will play the role of Dr. Majkowski, the head of Warsaw’s Department of Health who helped Sendler’s operation. Goran Visnjic will play Stefan, a Jewish university friend of Sendler with whom she fell in love when she began her underground operation.

The movie is based on Sendler’s authorized biography, Anna Mieszkowska’s 2005 book “Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story.”

Sendler was granted the title “Righteous among the Nations” by the organization Yad Vashem of Jerusalem in 1965 and was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She died on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98.

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Diocese of Charleston responds to new lawsuit’s ‘unfounded’ claims

Charleston, S.C., Apr 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Diocese of Charleston has described as “unfounded” a lawsuit’s claim that diocesan officials colluded with attorneys who served as counsels in a class action settlement between the diocese and past victims of sexual abuse.

The diocese entered into a settlement agreement with sexual abuse victims on January 12, 2007. The agreement was approved on July 30, 2007.

On April 13 attorney Greg Meyers filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging the diocese had colluded with victims’ attorneys in the class action suit. Myers’ suit also alleged that a plaintiff was sexually abused by a priest.

A press release from the diocese said that the class action agreement provided a mechanism to compensate individuals who claimed to have been abused by church personnel and to compensate their spouses and parents for their injuries resulting from the abuse.

“The Diocese paid these class claimants nearly $10 million, provided mental health counseling and offered an opportunity for pastoral healing. The Diocese entered into the Class Action Settlement Agreement in an attempt to offer victims of sexual abuse a non-confrontational avenue for compensation and healing,” the diocese said.

According to the diocese, the April 13 lawsuit was filed only weeks after the South Carolina Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case alleging collusion filed by attorney David Flowers.

On March 20 the court reportedly expressed concern that filings such as Flowers’ have delayed a final resolution to the underlying class action case.

Responding to the April 13 lawsuit’s allegation that one plaintiff was sexually abused by Father Justin Goodwin, the diocese said that the priest was suspended from active ministry in 1994 after being charged with criminal sexual conduct and performing a lewd act on a minor. He died on December 25, 1995.

“The Diocese of Charleston is adamant that it will not tolerate the abuse of children by Church personnel,” a diocesan press release said. It said the diocese in 1994 enacted “strict policies” to protect children, prevent abuse and promote healing.

“Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone invites any victim of sexual abuse by Church personnel to meet with him for spiritual healing,” the diocese’s statement continued. “During this Easter season, the Diocese asks all people to continue to pray for healing and peace for all, especially victims of sexual abuse.”

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