Providence, R.I., Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - “Abysmal” Catholic apathy must be overcome to oppose those who are “fiercely determined” to impose homosexual “marriage,” Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island Thomas J. Tobin has warned. Reasserting Catholic teaching on sexual morality, he also said that same-sex “marriage” will endanger religious freedom.
Writing in his April 23 column in The Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin spoke of a “relentless” political march towards homosexual marriage, with New England leading the way.
“The supporters of gay marriage in Rhode Island are well-organized and well-funded. They’re fiercely determined to impose their politically correct agenda on all the citizens of the state – human history, culture and moral principles not-withstanding. Anyone who opposes them is quickly labeled a bigot,” the bishop observed.
However, he said the typical Rhode Island Catholic’s response was indifferent and cited not wanting to judge people. Tobin also said that Catholics give rationalizations about the decline of Catholic influence.
“[G]ay marriage will affect you and you should be concerned. And there’s a lot we can do,” the bishop wrote, proceeding to review reasons Catholics oppose same-sex “marriage.”
Bishop Tobin explained that “homosexual activity is unnatural and gravely immoral. It’s offensive to Almighty God. It can never be condoned, under any circumstances. Gay marriage, or civil unions, would mean that our state is in the business of ratifying, approving such immoral activity.”
The movement for same-sex “marriage,” he added, “seeks to radically redefine the most fundamental institution of the human race, the building block of every society and culture. From the beginning, marriage has been defined as the stable union of man and woman, designed by God to continue the human race through the procreation of children.
“Homosexual relationships are not marriage – never have been, never will be.”
Bishop Tobin introduced what he called the “champagne principle.” Saying that not every wine has the unique characteristics of champagne, the bishop argued that someone who relabeled a bottle of Chianti and tried to sell it as champagne would be arrested for fraud.
Similarly, those who seek to redefine marriage and “to usurp the title ‘marriage’ for their morally bankrupt relationships,” are “committing an act of fraud,”he charged. “It’s insulting to those who have entered the authentic, sacred and time-honored institution of marriage over the years.”
“The gay culture continues to seep into our popular culture, cleverly claiming credibility,” he said. He charged that President Barack Obama’s special invitations to homosexual families to participate in the White House Easter Egg Hunt was “just another not-too-subtle attempt to ignore the objective immorality of the situation and present gay couples as normal and happy as every other couple.”
He closed with a warning about the implications the recognition of same-sex “marriage” would have for religious liberty.
“We’re familiar with other examples of the gay agenda infringing on religious freedom,” he said, noting how Massachusetts required the Catholic Church to place children for adoption with homosexual couples and how some countries have charged Christian preachers of hate crimes for voicing Christian doctrine about homosexual practices.
“Proponents of gay marriage say that the Church won’t be forced to witness such marriages. Don’t believe it,” he said, warning that the Church may be required to admit homosexual couples as sponsors for baptism, to rent its facilities for homosexual wedding receptions, or to hire employees despite their immoral lifestyles.
“For simply maintaining its teachings in these and many other possible scenarios, the Church will be accused of bigotry and unlawful discrimination. The threat to our religious freedom is real, and imminent,” he said.
Crediting Rhode Island’s governor, its Speaker of the House, and its President of the Senate for avoiding homosexual marriage, he said they have been “consistent and courageous” in deflecting the “onslaught” of homosexual activists.
Bishop Tobin said that if only five or ten percent of Rhode Island’s Catholic population became involved on this issue “we could have an enormous impact and help Rhode Island maintain its moral sanity.”
He encouraged Catholics to become aware of political action on the issue, to write letters to the editor, and to encourage their representatives to “defend marriage and family values.
“And you can pray fervently that God will help us in this critical struggle on behalf of morality and common sense,” he added.
If the imposition of homosexual marriage happens in Rhode Island, the bishop concluded, “It’ll be our fault… simply because our abysmal apathy allowed it to happen.”
Honiara, Solomon Islands, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Aid to the Church in Need has announced that it will help the Catholics of the island of Gaomai in the Solomon Islands rebuild a seaside church damaged in a July 2007 tsunami.
The tsunami and two earthquakes left more than 50 dead and around 9,000 homeless in the Solomons, a chain of islands near Papua New Guinea. The church building, just 16 feet from the shore, partially collapsed and now floods at high tide, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) says.
Despite the damage, people are still gathering at the church for prayer.
Bishop of Gizo Luciano Capelli expressed gratitude to ACN and its supporters for their assistance. He reported that the church easily floods because the seas are rising and because the island slightly sank during the earthquakes.
“The people of the Gizo diocese are slowly recovering from the trauma that shook and changed their lives radically,” Bishop Capelli said.
“They have struggled to survive for two years. They are now focusing on rebuilding their homes and schools.
“The churches are badly damaged but usable – I myself encouraged them to give priority to their homes and the school – and we think the Lord is happy about this decision.”
The new church will be built further inland, a decision the bishop called “painful.”
Through ACN’s offices in Ireland and the UK, the charity gave more than $65,000 for rebuilding work in Gaomai, where the average annual income is about $430 per year.
The island of Moli has also received help from the charity to repair its wharf and its church.
Washington D.C., Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - In what family advocates called a “huge victory,” the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may impose significant fines on television broadcasters for airing “fleeting” expletives.
The justices, in a 5-4 decision, said federal law has long prohibited the broadcast of indecent language. According to the Los Angeles Times, Justice Antonin Scalia referred to the perpetrators of several incidents as the “foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood.”
One such incident cited by Scalia involved the entertainer Cher using the “F-word” during a live Fox network broadcast at the Billboard Music Awards. The event had about 2.5 million minor viewers, Justice Scalia said.
Other incidents were caused by Bono and Nicole Richie during other entertainment industry award shows.
The FCC responded by implementing a new policy punishing the broadcast of a “fleeting expletive” with fines for the network and all local broadcasters who aired the show.
Fox and other networks went to court, arguing the change in policy was unjustified and unwarranted.
In FCC vs. Fox Television, the Supreme Court confirmed the government’s power to police the airwaves.
However, the decision does not affect cable TV, satellite broadcasts or the Internet because they do not rely on the federally regulated public airwaves.
"The commission could reasonably conclude that the pervasiveness of foul language, and the coarsening of public entertainment in other media such as cable, justify more stringent regulation of broadcast programs so as to give conscientious parents a relatively safe haven for their children," said Justice Scalia in the written majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito.
Broadcasters can ask the FCC to revise its policy as President Obama is appointing its new commissioners. They can also ask Congress to revise the relevant law.
The Supreme Court also said the broadcasters can argue claims of First Amendment violations before the federal appeals court in New York.
Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and chief executive of the Media Access Project, called the decision “extremely disappointing.” According to the Los Angeles Times, he characterized the FCC’s policies as “restrictive” and said he and his allies hope they will ultimately be declared unconstitutional.
“[T]here will be several more years of uncertainty, and impaired artistic expression,” he commented, saying the court chose not to confront First Amendment issues.
The Parents Television Council (PTC), which filed FCC indecency complaints over the two incidents in the case and had submitted an amicus curiae brief, praised the decision.
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an incredible victory for families. The Court has affirmed that the broadcast airwaves do indeed belong to the public, and not to the broadcasters who are granted a license to use the public airwaves for free,” PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement.
Winter agreed with the court that the FCC’s broadcast decency policy is “entirely rational” and not “arbitrary” or “capricious.”
“Broadcasters must abide by the terms of their licenses. They must not air indecent material before 10:00 p.m. – the hours when children are most likely to be in the viewing audience,” Winter continued. “We must put the well-being of children first and allow certain hours of the broadcast day to be a safe haven for families.”
Winter also encouraged the FCC to use the court’s opinion to “break the indecency complaint logjam and rule on the merits of the tens of thousands of indecency complaints currently awaiting review at the Commission.”
Penny Young Nance, a former policy Advisor to the Federal Communications Commission on indecency issues, said the decision was a “huge victory for American families.”
“Once again the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the government does have a role in protecting children,” Nance said. American families understand that the public airwaves, like public parks, are owned by all of us. The networks do not have the right to pollute the airwaves with the 'F-word' at will."
Denver, Colo., Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - After the U.S. Senate voted 65-31 to confirm Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic who strongly supports legal abortion, as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, pro-Obama and pro-life Catholics collided over the consequences of the appointment. Pro-lifers are promising to battle against the pro-abortion Dawn Johnsen, who awaits confirmation for the Office of Legal Counsel.
“Catholics United,” a group that has so far justified all of President Obama’s pro-abortion decisions, issued a statement congratulating Sebelius and applauding the U.S. Senate “for today's decisive action.”
Catholics United executive director Chris Korzen, who created a website to support Sebelius’ confirmation stated that, “we look forward to Secretary Sebelius' work in implementing President Obama's plans for universal health care, abortion reduction, and improved assistance for America's struggling families.”
“Catholics of all political backgrounds have cause to welcome the values of mercy and compassion that Secretary Sebelius' faith will bring to this important position,” the statement adds.
Catholics United called for “Secretary Sebelius' opponents – particularly those in the Catholic community – to accept the Senate's decision and join her in working toward common good-oriented public policy that will benefit human life at all stages.”
But Deal Hudson, founder of “Catholic Advocate,” who created the site Catholicsagainstsebelius.org, told CNA that “the Senate confirmation of Governor Sebelius as secretary of HHS is a clear and present danger to the culture of life in our nation.”
“Sebelius, in spite of professing a Catholic faith, has been a consistent supporter of abortion and abortionists. However, she serves in an administration committed to ‘abortion reduction,’ a position reiterated to Cardinal George by the president in a private meeting a few weeks ago.” According to Hudson, “when Cardinal George told President Obama he has done nothing but send the ‘wrong signals,’ the president said to Cardinal George, ‘be patient and you will see a pattern of change.’”
“Perhaps the president will charge Secretary Sebelius with initiating this ‘change,’ and, if so, I am sure Catholics will support her and the president in reversing the pro-abortion decisions of the first 100 days of the Obama presidency,” Hudson said.
Meanwhile, the president of the pro-life organization “Susan B. Anthony List,” Marjorie Dannenfelser said that “despite the results of tonight's vote, we're finding that more and more Americans are waking up to the danger of President Obama's nominations of extreme abortion advocates to serve in his administration.”
According to Dannenfelser, the high profile Sebelius confirmation battle has generated new interest and brought thousands of new activists on board for the pro-life cause.
“This grassroots energy,” she said, “will only increase our momentum as we confront the next round of President Obama's extreme pro-abortion nominees, beginning with former NARAL Legal Director Dawn Johnsen.”
“We expect all pro-life Senators will oppose Dawn Johnsen's nomination for Office of Legal Counsel, and their support will be critical to keeping her extreme abortion views out of the White House.”
Susan B. Anthony List activists have generated over 60,000 letters of opposition to Senators regarding the Sebelius nomination. Already over 37,000 letters have been sent in opposition to the Johnsen nomination.
While Johnsen served as Legal Director for NARAL, she authored numerous legal opinions rejecting any and all restrictions on abortion. Some notable quotes from Johnsen's amicus curiae brief in the case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services include:
“Abortion restrictions reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.”
“The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality...and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more 'consent' to pregnancy than pedestrians 'consent' to being struck by drunk drivers.”
Johnsen awaits a floor vote by the full U.S. Senate to gain confirmation to head the Office of Legal Counsel.
Vatican City, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Benedict XVI dedicated this morning's general audience to teaching on St. Germanus of Constantinople, the defender of icons. St. Germanus’ teaching, he explained, invites people to follow Christ in order to become the image of God again, to love the Church and to develop a love for the beauty of the liturgy.
The Pope recounted for the 35,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square how during Germanus’ patriarchate "the capital of the Byzantine empire, Constantinople, was subject to a threatening siege by the Saracens.”
On that occasion, St. Germanus led a procession with the image of the Mother of God ... and the relic of the Holy Cross. The faithful called upon the Most High to defend the city, and Constantinople was liberated from the siege.
This event, the Holy Father said, convinced the patriarch "that God's intervention was to be interpreted as evident approval of the reverence people showed towards holy icons.” The Holy Father went on: "Patriarch Germanus' appeals to Church tradition and to the real effectiveness of certain images, unanimously recognized as 'miraculous', were all to no avail.”
After a drawn out battle over the veneration of icons with Emperor Leo III, Germanus was forced to resign as patriarch, exiling himself to a monastery, where he died in 733.
Of Germanus’ works, Benedict XVI continued, "certain homilies on Marian themes have survived, of which some have had a profound influence on the piety of entire generations of faithful, both in the East and the West." One of these, Benedict XVI recalled, is cited by Pius XII in the constitution with which he proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption.
The pope indicated three elements that the saint has left for Christians. The first is that "there is a certain visibility of God in the world and in the Church, which we must learn to see." "God created man in His image but that image was covered with dirt and sin," Pope Benedict said. “Christ invites us to become like him in such a way that in every man, the face of God may shine through again."
Secondly, Germanus shows us "the beauty and dignity of the liturgy." The liturgy, the Holy Father underscored, must be celebrated "with the awareness of the presence of God."
The third aspect is that of "love for the Church." "It may be," he explained, "that we see more the sin of man and the negative, but with the light of faith that makes us capable of seeing the good, still today and always we can rediscover in the Church the divine beauty.”
Germanus writes that in the Church, God talks with Christians and walks with Christians. The Pope recalled, “It is in the Church that God makes himself present, and remains present in adoration, it is in the Church that he speaks with us, it is in the Church that we receive the forgiveness of God, we learn to forgive."
"Let us pray to God," the Pontiff concluded, "that he may teach us to see in the Church his beauty and his hope in the world, and help us as well to be transparent for his light."
Guadalajara, Mexico, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - In a recent press release entitled, “Trust in God and Personal Care,” Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, of Guadaljara addressed the swine flu epidemic by calling for “strengthened trust in God.”
After stating that for the time being Masses would not be canceled in Guadalajara, the cardinal pointed out that what is needed right now is greater trust in God. “We read in the Sacred Scriptures that no leaf falls from the tree without the consent of the Father, and so our lives are in the hands of God.”
Cardinal Sandoval urged Mexicans to do everything possible to keep the swine flu from spreading. “Let’s follow the recommendations of our leaders and place our trust in God. Let us strive to live peacefully, avoiding any panic that could be counterproductive,” he said.
By faithfully following the preventive measures and maintaining hope in the Lord, “we will be able to confront this health care emergency we are experiencing,” he continued. The cardinal encouraged the faithful to trust “in the protection of the Virgin Mary, under her title as Our Lady of Zapopan, the Patroness of this archdiocese, to whom we entrust our care.”
Vatican City, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Following today’s general audience, the Holy Father met with representatives from the Canadian aboriginal communities and expressed concern for the aboriginal peoples in Canada who continue to suffer from the impact of the former Indian Residential Schools.
Among the representatives were Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Archbishop Vernon James Weisgerber, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In the late nineteenth century the federal government established residential schools for nearly 100,000 Canadian aboriginal children that were administered by Catholic and Protestant organizations and churches and financed by the Canadian government. According to a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic bishops, when these students attended the schools, they were “cut off from their families and forced to suppress their language, religion and traditional way of life.”
In addition to this “cultural purging,” some of the students “were also victims of sexual and physical abuse,” said the Canadian bishops.
Last June, Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and the Canadian government formally apologized to the former students in a special assembly at the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Following their meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop V. James Weisgerber and Phil Fontaine expressed their deep gratitude for the special attention given by the Holy Father to the question of Aboriginal residential schools that had been operated by Catholic dioceses and religious communities.
South Bend, Ind., Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - William McGurn, former speech writer for George W. Bush, spoke at Notre Dame on April 23, to affirm and be a witness to the “sacredness of life.” He noted that no human right is safe when the right to life is denied, and that the unborn belong to no political party.
McGurn explained to CNA that his talk "outlined the kind of witness for life that Notre Dame is called to be, and that in many ways only Notre Dame can be.” In light of the recent news that Professor Mary Ann Glendon has turned down the Laetare Medal, McGurn noted that she “has given what we call a teaching moment, and the hope is that courageous action will help call Notre Dame back to the university it was meant to be."
McGurn, an alumnus of Notre Dame began his lecture by acknowledging the university’s invitation to President Obama to give the commencement address at this year’s ceremony. However, McGurn explained, he did not come to Notre Dame to “rally against a speaker, he came “to affirm the sacredness of life.”
“In a nation wounded by Roe, in a society that sets mothers against the children they carry in their wombs … we come here tonight because however much our hearts ache, they tell us this: Our church, our country, and our culture long for the life witness of Notre Dame,” McGurn said, launching into his address.
What does being a witness mean? he asked. “To be a witness, an institution must order itself so that all who look upon it see a consonance between its most profound truths and its most public actions.” For a Catholic university today, this requires leaders to share in that mission.
We must admit, he said, that there is “no guarantee that the young men and women who come here to learn will assent to her witness – but we must never forget that the university will have failed them if they leave here without at least understanding it.”
“This witness is the only real reason for a University of Notre Dame,” McGurn continued. Catholics believe that there are “self-evident truths about the dignity of each human life, and that this dignity derives from our” creation in the image and likeness of God.
These beliefs make us “countercultural,” he pointed out. However, “One does not need to be a Catholic to appreciate that abortion involves the brutal taking of innocent human life. To argue that this is a Catholic truth, or even a religious truth, is to overlook what science and sonograms tell us – and to insult” non-Catholics and even non-Christians “who appreciate that a civilization which sanctions abortion as a human right is in some essential way writing its death warrant.”
He explained that the idea of truth “has been rendered doubtful by the slow advance of a soft agnosticism that has itself become orthodoxy at so many universities.” This has not yet occurred at Notre Dame, McGurn argued, but he warned that “without a witness,” “our crosses, statues, and stained- glass windows will ultimately fade into historical curiosities.”
McGurn also acknowledged that the Notre Dame community has become successful, but with that success comes responsibility.
Notre Dame's Leadership
“So what does it say about the Notre Dame brand of leadership, that in the midst of a national debate over a decision that speaks to our Catholic identity, a debate in which thousands of people across the country are standing up to declare themselves ‘yea’ or ‘nay,’ our trustees and fellows…remain as silent as Trappist monks?” he asked.
“At a time when we are told to ‘engage and hold ‘dialogue,’ their timidity thunders across this campus. And what will history say of our billions in endowment if the richest Catholic university America has ever known cannot find it within herself to mount a public and spirited defense of the most defenseless among us?”
He went on to discuss Pope John Paul II who stated that “all pleas for other important human rights are ‘false and illusory’ if we do not defend with ‘maximum determination’ the fundamental right to life upon which all other rights rest.”
“Maximum determination,” repeated the ND alum. “Ladies and gentlemen, the unborn child’s right to life represents the defining civil rights issue of our day – and it ought to be a defining civil rights issue on this campus.”
“In our culture, so many of our most powerful and influential institutions are hostile to any hint that abortion might be an unsettled question. And in our public life, one of the most pernicious effects of the imposition of abortion via the Supreme Court is that it has deprived a free people of a fair and open debate. Notre Dame remains one of the few institutions capable of providing a witness for life in the fullness of its beauty and intellectual integrity – and America is waiting to hear her voice,” he said.
He then recognized the strong witness that is alive at Notre Dame. It can be seen in the pro-life teachers, the new Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life and the students who attended the annual March for Life.
“Unfortunately, people across this nation – and perhaps even here at this university – know little of these things” because “in her most public witness, Notre Dame appears afraid to extend to the cause of the unborn the same enthusiasm she shows for so many other good works here.”
After acknowledging that war, capital punishment and other issues deserve “more serious treatment,” McGurn noted that the “debate over these prudential judgments loses coherence if on the intrinsic evil of abortion we do not stand on the same ground.”
McGurn urged prolifers to begin dialogue with professors and classmates. “Say to them: ‘Brothers! Sisters! We are not perfect, and we will be much improved by your participation. We are holding a place for you on the front lines. Come join us – and let us walk together in our witness for life’.”
He continued: I appreciate that for some people, the idea of Notre Dame as an unequivocal witness for the unborn would be a limit on her work as a Catholic university. The truth is just the opposite. The more frank and forthright Notre Dame’s witness for life, the more she would be given the benefit of the doubt on the many judgment calls that the life of a great university entails.”
Right now, the former presidential speech writer urged, “America thirsts for an alternative to the relativism that leaves so many of our young people feeling empty and alone. This alternative is the Catholic witness that Notre Dame was created to provide – that Notre Dame is called to provide – and that in many ways, only Notre Dame can provide.”
Drawing his lecture to a close, McGurn asked encouraged his audience: “Make yours the voice that affirms life and motherhood. Be to those in need as the words of our alma mater: tender … strong … and true.”
He concluded, “let us pray that our beloved university becomes the Notre Dame our world so desperately needs: a witness for life that will truly shake down the thunder.”
In a Q & A session following his address, McGurn was asked if he was calling on Fr. Jenkins to resign. He answered that he didn’t want to go there. “If Father Jenkins resigned and President Obama did not come, my problem would remain: the school's lack of a witness for life.”
Bordeaux, France, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, spoke this week about the need for a “dialogue based on charity, but without losing sight of the truth,” in Muslim-Christian relations.
The cardinal made his comments in Bordeaux, France at the first meeting of bishops and national delegations for dialogue with Islam in Europe, promoted by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.
Cardinal Tauran said dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Europe is “a grace for us Christians, because it forces us to go deeper in our faith, to avoid ambiguity in our dialogue, to not see the other as an opponent but as a seeker of God and of the Absolute, to bear witness that man does not live on bread alone.”
According to L’Osservatore Romano, the president of the Pontifical Council said his dicastery “is drafting pastoral guidelines for dialogue in truth and charity,” which he hopes will be published in the coming months.
Dialogue with Muslims, who make up about three or four percent of the European population, “also gives us the chance to show our friends that we respect them, but also that we expect of them a more decisive effort above all in attaining an objective knowledge of Christianity and a respect for the freedom of knowledge and religion, as is indicated in international documents.”
Manassas, Va., Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Today the Cardinal Newman Society is delivering the first 300,000 names of Catholics who have signed their petition opposing Notre Dame’s decision to have President Obama deliver its commencement address and grant him an honorary degree.
The Cardinal Newman Society, whose mission consists of “renewing and strengthening” America’s 224 Catholic colleges, started the petition at NotreDameScandal.com to oppose President John Jenkins’, C.S.C., invitation to Obama on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s teaching on Catholics in Political life.
Since the petition was started, nearly 9,000 people per day have added their name to the list, resulting in the current total of 344,000.
Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees and Board of Fellows are set to meet this Friday, May, 1 at a previously scheduled meeting. The Cardinal Newman Society said binders containing 64,000 double sided pages were sent via FedEx to Father Jenkins and the entire Board of Trustees and Board of Fellows.
To date, 50 U.S. bishops have advised Notre Dame that their decision was flawed and some have even called for the invitation to be retracted. Yet, the Cardinal Newman Society noted that “only the Notre Dame Trustees and Fellows have direct authority over Father Jenkins.” The organization sees the meeting as its “best hope for an end to this scandal.”
The Cardinal Newman Society called for Catholics to “pray” for the Trustees and Fellows “charged with safeguarding Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.” The Board of Fellows contains 12 members, including 6 Holy Cross priests, while the Board of Trustees contains 38 mainly lay members.
Other copies of the petition are reportedly being sent to Archbishop Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the United States; Francis Cardinal George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Bishop John D’Arcy, of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who presides over Notre Dame; and Bishop Robert McManus, Chairman of the USCCB Education Committee.
Cochabamba, Bolivia, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - In the final message at the conclusion of their 87th Plenary Assembly, the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia called for “peace based on the truth, reconciliation, forgiveness and harmony,” amidst the climate of violence and insecurity that has enveloped the country.
The bishops final statement recalled the need for the lay faithful not to fear “bearing clear witness to their faith in God, who guides the destiny of each person and of all of society.”
The bishops reiterated their support for a secular state in which “the right to vote and the exercise of religion, and consequently the contribution to social life and the reciprocal autonomy between the Church and the State are respected.” They also said the would continue “serving the most poor and vulnerable” through the different works of the Church in the country.
After denouncing the current climate of “growing uncertainty and insecurity due to violence,” the bishops recalled the recent attack on the residence of Cardinal Terrazas and expressed thanks for the solidarity that has been extended to them, especially from Pope Benedict XVI.
They went on to stress the urgency of “installing a climate of serenity and transparency, in a democratic spirit and with constructive dialogue, keeping in mind particularly that we are entering a process that will culminate in the elections at the end of the year.”
“The people hope that this event that is so important for the life of the country will not be disrupted by deceit and lies, violent confrontation and insults, and personal interests in opposition to the common good,” the bishops said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia has expressed his support of a proposal to make Michoacan the eleventh Mexican state to protect the right to life from conception to natural death.
“Any time is a good time for the law to conform to moral values,” Archbishop Suarez Inda told reporters, after Representative Francisco Morelos Borja of the PAN party announced his decision to sponsor a right to life law.
“In the states where similar measures have been adopted, which if I’m not mistaken are eleven, the reasons given by scientists, the reasons given by doctors, the reasons given by biologists are what have convinced many lawmakers to reform the law to precisely show that this is about a person who has rights, the fundamental right to life,” the archbishop explained.
He said the Church would always support officials who use their authority to defend the rights of the defenseless, and the most defenseless of all are the unborn.”
Dallas, Texas, Apr 29, 2009 (CNA) - Addressing liturgical matters amid concerns of a swine flu outbreak, Bishop of Dallas Kevin J. Farrell has advised his diocese’s pastors to consider suspending the reception of the Holy Eucharist under both species and to take other steps to respond to possible health dangers.
The first reported death in the U.S. from swine flu came on Tuesday, when a 23-month-old boy visiting from Mexico died in Houston.
Bishop Farrell’s April 28 letter said awareness has increased about “the potential danger of the possibility of a serious epidemic of ‘swine flu’ for which there is no vaccination.” To assist in preventing the spread of a possible epidemic, he asked that pastors consider modifications to the distribution of the Eucharist and also ensure that Eucharistic Ministers use proper hygiene before distributing the Eucharist at Masses.
He also advised that pastors tell parishioners to be attentive to public health announcements.
The bishop further asked that pastors offer prayers for those afflicted by the illness and for public health officials addressing the possible threat.
Father Michael Dugan, Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Diocese of Dallas, offered some reminders and recommendations to be consulted in the event of a significant outbreak.
Fr. Dugan said that the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation is the “ordinary expectation” for Catholics. However, “extraordinary circumstances” including sickness excuse the faithful from the obligation.
“If you are not feeling well, especially during this time of concern, please stay at home and do not risk spreading infection to others. Please stay at home and do not attend Mass,” he wrote.
He said congregants should not be offended if someone chooses not to shake hands during the sign of peace.
“If you are ill, the appropriate response to someone extending a sign of peace might be to bow to them and say, ‘Peace be with You,’ to avoid bodily contact or one might wave slightly at the other person.”
Regarding the reception of Holy Communion, he advised those feeling sick to receive communion in the hand and to refrain from receiving communion under the form of the Blood of Christ.
Fears of swine flu have caused several Catholic schools to close in different parts of the country.
St. Francis Preparatory School in the Queens borough of New York City, the largest private Catholic high school in the nation, cancelled classes for its 2,700 students on Monday and Tuesday in response to the reported outbreak. According to the Associated Press, eight students at the school had contracted swine flu and some students had visited Mexico two weeks ago.
St. Mel's Catholic School in Fair Oaks, California, near Sacramento, was closed until at least Thursday while health officials examine whether a seventh-grader has a flu linked to the outbreak.