Hartford, Conn., Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Church and the Family Institute of Connecticut have begun a campaign in Connecticut to secure religious freedom exemptions to a bill implementing the state Supreme Court’s 2008 decision which mandated the recognition of same-sex “marriages.”
The campaign includes automated phone calls, television and newspaper ads, and bishops’ statements, the Hartford Courant reports.
"We're facing another attack on our religious liberty," said a letter written by Bishop of Norwich Michael Cote. "It's very serious and has to be stopped now."
Campaign leaders cited concerns about the bill’s repeal of a provision protecting children from “government indoctrination in sexual lifestyles.” Further, they warned the bill could help compel wedding photographers, justices of the peace and marriage therapists to participate in same-sex “marriage” ceremonies and related activities against their consciences.
The leaders are asking the state legislature to create a religious liberties exception when it codifies the court’s decision.
"Freedom of religion [is a] fundamental right that [has] been inscribed in our federal constitution forever," attorney John Droney, who is providing legal advice to the Knights of Columbus, told the Hartford Courant. "It doesn't suddenly get put on the shelf because of this new, emerging right."
A Knights of Columbus-commissioned poll by Marist College showed that 70 percent of Connecticut voters disapprove of imposing fines and penalties on public officials who refuse to perform same-sex “marriages” based on religious objections.
The Diocese of Bridgeport said that Bishop of Bridgeport William E. Lori wrote a letter inserted into parish bulletins over the past weekend, with an announcement being read from the pulpit.
Referring to the recent successful fight against SB 1098, state legislation which would have compelled the administrative reorganization of the Catholic Church, Bishop Lori’s letter thanked Catholics for their “swift and decisive action.”
“We need you to speak out again,” he said, echoing Bishop Cote’s warning about “another attack on our religious liberty.”
He reported that Senate legislation implementing the Connecticut Supreme Court’s order to recognize same-sex marriage had been sent to the full Senate. However, Bishop Lori warned, the legislation does not protect the First Amendment religious freedoms of individuals, religious organizations, and related societies.”
The bishop said concerned citizens should not be distracted by claims about clergy exemptions.
“When you contact the State Legislature about Bill 899, you may be told that it exempts clergy from having to officiate at same-sex weddings. But this bill does not guarantee the First Amendment rights of clergy, religious, and laity to practice their faith and operate their programs and services in accordance with their sincerely-held religious beliefs,” he said.
The bishop said individuals and religious groups, particularly those that provide social and educational services, would be subject to “civil harassment in the form of lawsuits.”
“The State of Connecticut could try to coerce religious groups by giving grants, contracts, and licenses only to organizations that recognize and support same-sex marriage,” he said.
Bishop Lori explained that related actions forced Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston to halt adoption services because it would not place children with homosexual couples, while in Canada the Knights of Columbus were fined for refusing to rent their hall for a homosexual wedding reception.
He also warned that Bill 899 repeals a current provision that protects children from “government indoctrination in sexual lifestyles that are contrary to our beliefs.”
“If you want to see how far this has already gone, visit the state’s ‘Safe Harbor Project’ website,” he advised.
The site says:
“In accordance with Connecticut law, LGBT individuals should never be placed in a setting where they will be subject to condemnation, indoctrination, acts of violence, bigotry, intolerance, proselytizing, bullying, prejudice or harassment.”
The site also announces that the State of Connecticut’s child welfare system will be working with the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign on an “exciting new initiative” called "All Children All Families." The initiative reportedly will help the child welfare system “find permanent families for children by promoting fairness for LGBT foster and adoptive parents and even our mentors.”
Bishop Lori called on churchgoers to contact their State Senator and Representative to ask them to vote against Senate Bill 899 because it is a violation of religious freedom.
He also announced that news and updates will be posted at the Diocese of Bridgeport’s website, www.bridgeportdiocese.com
South Bend, Ind., Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - The procession will be led by Fr. Kevin Russeau, director of Notre Dame’s Old College undergraduate seminary. It is co-sponsored by many different groups from Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College. Organizers describe the event as a revival of an old university tradition.
The procession will begin on the Notre Dame Campus at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart after the 11:45 a.m. Mass.
According to an announcement for the procession, it is intended to pray for a greater respect for and protection of human life from conception until natural death; for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, especially to the Congregation of Holy Cross; and for blessings upon the students, faculty, administration and staff of Holy Cross College, St. Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame.
Fr. Basil Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, set up a program of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration for the entire congregation which went on continuously for 27 years. He called Adoration “the richest source of divine blessings for us and for our houses.”
The group Children of Mary is also organizing a 40 Hour Devotion providing Eucharistic Adoration for 40 hours before the procession in the Log Chapel on campus.
More information on the procession is available at http://www.notredameprocession.com/
At the Notre Dame Commencement on May 17, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree. The invitation of the president has generated significant controversy, evidenced by over 330,000 signatures to the Cardinal Newman Society’s on-line petition, in part because of the president’s extreme support for abortion.
ND Response, a coalition of student groups opposed to the invitation, has launched a “One Million Rosaries” campaign to pray for President Obama’s “change of heart,” especially on the “sanctity of life.” Their prayer intentions also include prayers for the Catholic character of Notre Dame and for a greater respect for life around the world.
Brisbane, Australia, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - A priest who is the new pastor of an Australian congregation whose last pastor led hundreds of parishioners into a breakaway sect has pledged to sustain the parish and to “move forward” in its “unusual” situation.
The previous pastor of St. Mary’s Church in South Brisbane was Fr. Peter Kennedy, who allegedly denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and was on record denying the Virgin Birth.
According to the Courier Mail, he also allowed a Buddhist statue in the Church.
The priest has begun a community called “St. Mary’s in Exile” based at a nearby Trades and Labour Council building.
Archbishop of Brisbane John A. Bathersby replaced Fr. Kennedy with Fr. Ken Howell, Dean of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
In a message to St. Mary’s Church, Fr. Howell said he looked forward to his first Masses at the parish on Saturday and Sunday.
“Whenever there is a new pastor there is always a sense of apprehension,” Fr. Howell wrote in a statement. “Given the events that have led to this change of pastors, everyone can wonder what will happen. All I know is that as we gather to celebrate Eucharist a new chapter in the life of this great parish begins. The content of that chapter will be what we together, priest and people, will compose as we share faith and life.”
According to the Courier Mail, he said he wanted to see the parish “sustained as a parish.”
"There's been a great number of people who have worshiped there in recent times and I have no reason to believe that's not going to be the case into the future. I think the numbers will be surprising in a positive way, not just a handful of people."
"Usually when you move to a new parish, there's a fair amount of certainty of who will be there. But this situation because of what has happened, it's a little bit unusual, that's for sure," he said, saying it will take time to form the new community.
"We're not into contests between ourselves and the TLC building... I've always had good relations with Father Kennedy," he told the Courier Mail. "We could start discussing what's happened and how it's happened, and would it have been better if this had happened, but that's life. We deal with the reality as it is and move forward.”
Geneva, Switzerland, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, delivered a speech yesterday at the Geneva conference on racism, emphasizing the need for education to include “ethical and spiritual values” to combat racism and intolerance.
The archbishop affirmed that those who are different are often “rejected to the point that barbarous acts are committed against them, including genocide and ethnic cleansing,” and also recalled that “old forms of exploitation give way to new ones: women and children are trafficked in a contemporary form of slavery, irregular immigrants are abused, persons perceived to be or who in fact are different become, in disproportionate numbers, the victims of social and political exclusion."
One area that receives little attention, but that Archbishop Tomasi said the Vatican is “alarmed by,” is the “still latent temptation of eugenics." He warned that eugenic practices could lead to "the elimination of human beings that do not fulfill the characteristics predetermined by a given society."
To combat these extreme acts of intolerance, said Archbishop Tomasi, education systems must be reviewed “so that every aspect of discrimination may be eliminated from teaching, textbooks, curricula and visual resources." Media, he went on, "should be accessible and free of racist and ideological control as this leads to discrimination and even violence against persons of different cultural and ethnic background."
He then suggested that the initial step to combating the challenges of “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” is to provide “an integral education that includes ethical and spiritual values.”
This type of education will “favor the empowerment of vulnerable groups like refugees, migrants and people on the move, racial and cultural minorities, people prisoners of extreme poverty or who are ill and disabled, and girls and women still stigmatized as inferior in some societies where an irrational fear of differences prevent full participation in social life," he concluded.
On Tuesday, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to the conference calling Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime,"adding that the U.S. and Europe helped establish Israel at the expense of Palestinians after World War II.
"They resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering," he said, according to the Associated Press.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson responded accusing Ahmadinejad of using the U.N. forum “for the adoption of political positions, of an extremist and offensive nature, against any State."
Vatican City, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) -
On Thursday morning, Pope Benedict addressed representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission following their plenary assembly and said that a correct understanding of Scripture does not come from "the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers" but rather rises from the Tradition of the Church.
"Inspiration and truth in the Bible," the theme of the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s plenary assembly, is one that touches on a topic that biblical scholars have vigorously debated during the last century. Much of biblical scholarship, Catholic and non-Catholic, has developed into an academic study separated from the living memory of the Church.
This morning the Pope received thirty representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who just held their full assembly, under the leadership of Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Benedict XVI began by underlining the importance of the chosen theme, which "concerns not only believers, but the Church herself, because the Church's life and mission necessarily rest upon the Word of God … ."
Recalling that the Constitution 'Dei Verbum' (The Word of God) affirmed that God is the author of the Bible, and that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to mankind in a human manner, the Holy Father laid out the three criteria that the Second Vatican Council prescribed for correctly interpreting Scripture.
"For a correct interpretation of Scripture we must, then, carefully examine what the hagiographers really sought to say and what God was pleased to reveal with their words," he explained.
First, "Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God's plan, of which Jesus Christ is the center and the heart."
Second, "Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church. ... In her Tradition the Church carries the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who provides her with the interpretation thereof in accordance with its spiritual meaning.
"The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan."
The task of scholars, the Holy Father said, "is to contribute, following the above-mentioned principles, to a more profound interpretation and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture."
Pope Benedict, himself an academic, also warned Catholic biblical scholars that the study of Sacred Scripture cannot be reduced to a purely academic exercise but must involve a perception of "the Word of God in these texts."
"The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be a merely an individual academic undertaking, but must always be compared with, inserted into, and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church.
"This norm is essential in order to ensure a correct and reciprocal exchange between exegesis and Church Magisterium," the Pope stated.
But the Holy Father went further, offering a corrective reminder to biblical scholars, saying, "Catholic exegetes do not nourish the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers. The opposite is true, because these texts were not given to individual scholars 'to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research'. The texts inspired by God were entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity."
The Pontiff also summarized the Church's understanding of Scripture and Tradition.
"Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Tradition, on the other hand, integrally transmits the Word of God as entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors so that they, illuminated by the Spirit of truth, could faithfully conserve, explain and spread it through their preaching."
Benedict XVI closed his address to the commission by emphasizing the need to harmonize the Magisterium and academic scholarship. "Only within the ecclesial context can Sacred Scripture be understood as the authentic Word of God which is guide, norm and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual development of believers. This means rejecting all interpretations that are subjective or limited to mere analysis [and hence] incapable of accepting the global meaning which, over the course of the centuries, has guided the Tradition of the entire people of God."
Asunción, Paraguay, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - The executive committee of the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference issued a statement Wednesday denying it received reports that President Fernando Lugo had fathered a child while still a bishop.
Speaking about Lugo's actions, the bishops said in their statement that “the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference never received any formal complaint in writing with regard to Bishop Fernando Lugo about the issue of his supposed paternity.”
“If a complaint was made to the Apostolic Nunciature, its handling and definition was under the exclusive competence of the same [office],” they added.
For this reason, “the executive committees laments and rejects the statements by Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plan which imply that there was a cover-up and complicity on the part of the bishops of Paraguay regarding the moral conduct of the then-member of the Episcopal college, Bishop Fernando Lugo,” they said.
Bishop Livieres had told different news outlets that the former Nuncio received written complaints between 2000 and 2004 from women claiming to have had children by Lugo.
The bishops went on to point out that “the resignation letter of Bishop Fernando Lugo from the Diocese of San Pedro in 2004, and his reasons, were not received by the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference, and therefore it was not an issue handled by the Plenary Assembly of Bishops.”
“The members of the conference learned of the resignation when it was officially announced that the Holy Father accepted his resignation in January of 2005,” the statement indicated.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - The legislature of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo has approved a law protecting human life and guaranteeing the rights of the unborn, from conception to natural death.
The new law reads: “The State of Quintana Roo recognizes, protects and guarantees the right to life of all human beings by expressly maintaining that from the moment of conception they fall under the protection of the Law and are granted all legal corresponding rights until death, except in the exceptions established by the Law.”
The measure passed with support from lawmakers of every party.
Quintana Roo now joins Sonora, Baja California, Morelos, Jalisco, Puebla, Colima, Durango and Nayarit as states that have passed laws protecting life from conception to natural death.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - An overwhelming majority of Dominican lawmakers voted to protect the country from abortion by modifying the constitution to guarantee the right to life from conception to natural death, in a vote of 167-32.
The vote was held on Tuesday after President Leonel Fernandez requested the issue be taken up.
“The right to life is inviolable from conception to death. The death penalty shall not be established, sentenced or applied in any case,” the measure read, thus outlawing abortion in the Dominican Republic.”
“Christians celebrated this transcendent decision for the value of life because abortion is a death penalty,” Father Milton Ruiz of the Department of Family Ministry told the AP.
Vatican City, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - Speaking to members of the organizing committee of the Sixth World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict explained that families are schools of obedience – a virtue necessary in the world today.
The Holy Father spoke to the committee during a Mass in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater chapel on Thursday. In his homily, he commented on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which St. Peter affirms that "we must obey God rather than any human authority."
"The Word of God speaks to us of an obedience that is not mere subjection, nor simply an obeying of orders,” the Pope reflected, “rather it arises from an intimate communion with God and consists in an interior vision capable of discerning that which 'comes from on high' and 'is above everything.' It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which God grants without measure."
It is necessary that our contemporaries discover this essential obedience, he continued. “It means opting for specific forms of behavior which are based on obedience to God's will and which make us fully free.”
“Christian families, with their domestic, simple and joyful lives ... are schools of obedience and environments of true freedom,” Benedict XVI stated. “They know this well, those who over many years have enjoyed marriage in accordance with God's plan, experiencing the goodness of the Lord Who helps and encourages us."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, exhorted thousands of students this week not to be trapped by “the proposal of the easy shortcut, instant gratification, alcohol or drugs, because that is darkness.”
During the traditional Mass for Education, the cardinal also urged young people to “walk in the light” and not to be seduced by the purveyors of darkness. “Open your hearts to the light even though it is hard, do not allow yourselves to be enslaved by the promises that seem to be freedom but are in reality oppression, the promises of vain happiness, the promises of darkness.”
Cardinal Bergoglio recalled that teachers and schools have the responsibility to defend children and adolescents. “Go out and announce this way of life, this way in which the light overcomes,” he said, adding they must warn young people of the seriousness of drugs. “We have no idea how serious this gloomy proposal is, this corruption that is even distributed on the street corners of our schools.”
Pointing to a letter written by 20 Buenos Aires priests on the drug addiction crisis, the cardinal said, “this is not a issue [just] for these priests, it’s an issue for us all. It is an issue for me and for all the auxiliary bishops who support this statement.”
“This darkness is so strong that yesterday one of the priests who signed the statement was threatened, and we know that these threats are no joke. We do not know how they will end up,” he added.
Some of the poorer areas in Buenos Aires, referred to as “villas,” are suffering from a large number of drug addicts and related violence.
South Bend, Ind., Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) -
Bishop John M. D’Arcy, whose diocese encompasses the University of Notre Dame, has issued a statement saying that President Fr. John Jenkins, CSC has given a “flawed justification” for the university’s commencement invitation to President Barack Obama and should have consulted with his bishop before inviting the pro-abortion rights politician.
Bishop D’Arcy said a U.S. bishops’ document regulating such honors “does indeed apply” to the invitation.
In an April 21 statement, Bishop D’Arcy reported that Fr. Jenkins had sent him a copy of a letter to Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted. Bishop Olmsted had written to Fr. Jenkins earlier, charging that the invitation of Obama to speak and receive an honorary law degree at Notre Dame’s commencement is a violation of the U.S. Bishops' 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life.”
Fr. Jenkins, in his letter to Bishop Olmsted, reportedly argued that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) document “Catholics in Political Life” did not apply to the invitation to the U.S. president. The university president sent a copy of the letter to Bishop D’Arcy.
Bishop D’Arcy said that because the matter was now public, it was his duty as bishop to “respond and correct” as part of his “pastoral responsibility.”
Presenting points from his own April 15 letter to Fr. Jenkins, Bishop D’Arcy said the teaching of “Catholics in Political Life” is “clear” and places the responsibility on Catholic institutions, and the Catholic Community as a whole, not to honor those who “act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
He said doubts concerning the meaning of a USCCB document should be referred to the local bishop for authentic interpretation.
“The diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation,” Bishop D’Arcy wrote.
The bishop underscored that Fr. Jenkins had indirectly consulted other bishops when he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities and asked them to consult their own bishops.
“However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president,” Bishop D’Arcy wrote, adding that the local bishop’s responsibility to teach is “central” to the university’s relationship to the Church.
“The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake,” the bishop said.
“Proper consultation,” he added, could have prevented the action and the “painful division” it has caused between many bishops, the school, and a “large number” of the faithful.
The bishop also took issue with Fr. Jenkins’ contention that his invitation to President Obama did not “suggest support” for the Obama’s actions, since Jenkins said he had spoken to Obama about their disagreement.
Bishop D’Arcy said the “outpouring of hundreds of thousands” of people who were shocked by the invitation “clearly demonstrates” that the invitation has scandalized many Catholics and others.
“In my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in,” the bishop wrote. “It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.”
“It would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this,” he continued. “We have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.”
Bishop D’Arcy reported that his letter to Fr. Jenkins asked for a correction and, if possible, a withdrawal of the “erroneous talking points” which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets.
“The statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.”
The bishop said he now considered the application of “Catholics in Public Life” to be “settled.”
Calling for division to be addressed through prayer and action, he pledged to work with Fr. Jenkins and all those at the university to heal the “terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church. It cannot be allowed to continue.”
Bishop D’Arcy concluded his letter with an appeal for prayers for “substantial and true, and not illusory” healing.”
“Notre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.”
Santa Paula, Calif., Apr 23, 2009 (CNA) - The chairman of the board of governors of Thomas Aquinas College has announced that college’s Treasurer and Vice President for Finance and Administration, Peter L. DeLuca III, has been appointed interim college president.
College President Thomas E. Dillon died in a car accident in Ireland on April 15.
Maria O. Grant, chairman of the board of governors of the college, explained the decision in a Tuesday press release:
“Mr. DeLuca is a founder of the College, completely committed to its mission, and already deeply involved in the daily running of the school. I have every confidence that he is ready and able to take immediate charge of the affairs of the College. I know that the faculty, students, and staff of the College will give him their full cooperation and support.”
DeLuca, commenting on his appointment, said “I appreciate the confidence the board has placed in me and will do all in my power to protect and preserve the College until a new president can be selected.”
De Luca has been a member of the college’s Board of Governors since 1969 and has been on the teaching faculty since 1971. He has also served as senior vice president and vice president of development.
He graduated in economics at St. Mary’s College of California and has served as western director and national director of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. He also worked as assistant to the president of Grant Oil Tool Co. and pursued graduate studies at the University of Southern California, a college press release says.
Grant said she would soon initiate the process of appointing a new president.
The college has announced funeral arrangements for Dr. Dillon, saying that his funeral Mass will be held in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel on Friday, April 24 at 10 a.m. He will be interned at Santa Paula Cemetery. A reception will follow in the St. Joseph Commons on the Thomas Aquinas College Campus.
A rosary was scheduled for 7:30 pm Thursday evening in the chapel, with an all-night vigil to follow.