Archive of May 18, 2009

Small university, founded on the Catholic tradition, unleashes against ND critics

Washington D.C., May 18, 2009 (CNA) - Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity University in Washington D.C., accused pro-lifers protesting Obama's speech at Notre Dame of being "Catholic vigilantes" that are turning back the clock to pre-Vatican II times, when supposedly the Church had no respect for academic freedom.

Speaking on Trinity's campus in Northeast Washington, McGuire devoted almost all of her speech to the controversy surrounding the decision of Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, to honor President Barack Obama despite having the strongest pro-abortion record of any previous President.

"A half-century of progress for Catholic higher education is at risk of slipping back into those insular, parochial pre-Vatican II days," when, according to McGuire, "academic freedom was not valued within the Catholic Church."

"The real scandal at Notre Dame today is not that the president of the United States is speaking at commencement," McGuire said. "The real scandal is the misappropriation of sacred teachings for political ends. The real scandal is the spectacle of ostensibly Catholic mobs camping out at Notre Dame for the specific purpose of disrupting the commencement address of the nation's first African American president."

"This ugly spectacle -McGuire continued- is an embarrassment to all Catholics. The face that Catholicism shows to our new president should be one marked with the sign of peace, not distorted in the snarl of hatred."

McGuire continued, "The religious vigilantism apparent in the Notre Dame controversy arises from organizations that have no official standing with the church, but who are successful in gaining media coverage as if they were speaking for Catholicism. . . . They have established themselves as uber-guardians of a belief system we can hardly recognize. Theirs is a narrow faith devoted almost exclusively to one issue. They defend the rights of the unborn but have no charity toward the living. They mock social justice as a liberal mythology."

This is not the first time McGuire has taken a stand against pro-life Catholics and has said to be "proud of having a plaque hanging in my office that says: 'Well Behaved Women Don't Make History'."

After the nomination of Trinity alumna Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, McGuire was requested by several alumni to distance the university from Sebelius' strongly pro-abortion views.

McGuire responded in her blog saying that "the tactics of vilification, condemnation and excommunication will only serve to distance politicians from any faith expression, and to make the general electorate even more wary of any candidate who is Catholic. We need to return this discussion to the high moral ground of teaching persuasively, not lobbing hate mail."

"Trinity," she continued, "is, indeed, proud of the achievements of Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius (both alumni at Trinity.) Our pride in their achievements in reaching some of the highest public offices in our nation's history does not mean that we agree with all of their political positions. We obviously disagree on the matter of abortion policy where we affirm the Church's teachings. But there are many other policy positions where their political decisions and Church teachings align quite well."

Trinity University was originally founded in 1897 as "Trinity College" by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Currently, Trinity enrolls some 1,700 students in degree programs.

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Indiana Catholics pray for President Obama during ND graduation

Indianapolis, Ind., May 18, 2009 (CNA) - Nearly 200 Catholics prayed at Holy Rosary Church in downtown Indianapolis as President Obama addressed graduates of the University of Notre Dame yesterday afternoon.

The church held a prayer service because so many were "frustrated and confused," with the controversy surrounding President Obam’s reception of an honorary degree at Notre Dame said Monsignor Joseph Schaedel in the Indy Star. "Both sides needed an outlet for their feelings. For Catholics, there’s no better outlet than prayer."

He continued: "It was a no-win situation for everyone. If Notre Dame would have rescinded the invitation, people would still be mad."

One parishioner, Brendan Garvey who was interviewed by the Indy Star adamantly stated his opposition:

"How can Notre Dame, a Catholic university, invite someone whose positions are directly opposed to church doctrine? I understand the prestige of having the president of the United States speak, but how can they give him an honor when he stands against the main principle the university was built on, the sanctity of life?"

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ND rally celebrates graduates, praises 'sanctity of life'

South Bend, Ind., May 18, 2009 (CNA) - Following a devastating fire which ravaged the campus of the University of Notre Dame in 1879, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., founder of the University proclaimed to his brother priests, “If it were all gone, I would still not give up!” 


On May 17, 2009, while addressing more than 3000 people who attended the Notre Dame Response Student Coalition’s “Rally Sons of Notre Dame,” Fr. Wilson “Bill” B. Miscamble, C.S.C., evoked this memory of Fr. Sorin and that of his founding vision of the University as a reminder and a celebration of the University’s call to greatness within the Church and the country.


After two months of planning, praying and preparing, the ND Response Coalition hosted their “Rally” on University’s commencement weekend—May 16-17, 2009—to celebrate the Catholic identity of the University of Notre Dame and the pro-life mission upon which the University does and should stand firm.


The ND Response events began Saturday evening with an informal prayer service held at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Notre Dame’s campus. Following the Grotto service, Eucharistic Adoration was held through the night in the Alumni Hall chapel, one of the 28 on-campus undergraduate dormitories.


The events continued Sunday. As students, faculty, alumni, and unaffiliated Notre Dame and pro-life supporters began to fill the South Quad of Notre Dame’s campus, a travelers’ Mass was held to open the day’s events. Fr. Kevin Russeau, C.S.C., principal celebrant of the Mass, was joined by nine other priests, including Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and Fr. John Corapi of EWTN’s “Life on the Rock.”


Reflecting upon the Mass readings, Fr. Russeau underscored Christ’s call to each and all to the commandment, “Love one another.” In light of the controversy triggered by President Obama being chosen as Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement speaker, Fr. Russeau emphasized the prayer-centeredness of the students’ response. Describing love as a vocation, the priest stated that as the students came to “the table of the Lord again in this of controversy,” the students of ND Response offer a powerful reminder to all. “The students remind us that we must do all things in love…[T]o respond in love requires the guidance of the love of God.”


After the conclusion of the Mass, the crowd was addressed by seven speakers, all Notre Dame, professors, alumni, or students. Each of the speakers gave rousing speeches. Even though all spoke about the greatness of Notre Dame, each speaker also directly called upon the University, particularly the administration and faculty, to rejuvenate and defend the Catholic, pro-life mission of Notre Dame.


Fr. Bill Miscamble, C.S.C., was the rally’s first speaker. Recalling the foundational history of the University, Miscamble declared that the administration’s decision to invite and honor President Obama “damaged the ethos and spirit of Notre Dame.”


The University’s founder, Fr. Sorin, started Notre Dame with the intention that it would be an institution that would de great good for the country and the Church. In sight of its invitation to Mr. Obama, Fr. Miscamble declared that the University had settled for “temporary attention over eternal honor”—making rhetoric on its fidelity to the Church and commitment to the defense of life “rings hollow today.”


However, Fr. Miscamble stated as he drew his speech to a close, the fight for Notre Dame is neither lost nor hopeless. Although the University has suffered a “painful, self-inflicted wound,” Fr. Miscamble explained, “this is not the end of the story.”


Chris Godfrey, a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School and founder of Life Athletes, an organization of professional and Olympic athletes who promote pro-life values, addressed the crowd after Fr. Bill Miscamble. A member of the New York Giants Super Bowl XXI championship team, Mr. Godfrey drew on his experience as a professional athlete to illustrate Notre Dame’s need for improvement. According to Mr. Godfrey, Notre Dame needs to “go back to the basics,” as it has lost sight of its own mission as a Catholic institute to a focus on its own prestige.


At Notre Dame, Godfrey continued, there are a lot of basics. However, lucky for Notre Dame, “there are a lot of good things [at Notre Dame].” Yet, Godfrey warned, “we must focus on these in the right order—or all lose their goodness.”


Another highlight speech was given by Fr. John J. Raphael, a ND’89 alumnus and a Josephite priest from New Orleans, LA.


Calling the ND Response “Rally” “not your ordinary gathering for Life,” Fr. Raphael went on to proclaim “the real Notre Dame is totally committed to defending sanctity of life.”  Referring to the foundation and the mission of the University, Fr. Raphael explained that Notre Dame is “defined by its relationship to the entire community of the Church.” If Notre Dame truly desires to contribute to the culture of life within larger society, Raphael said, it must first nurture that culture within the bounds of its own campus.


The rally closed with a rousing address from Notre Dame professor of philosophy, Dr. David Solomon. Approaching the podium wearing the traditional professorial commencement gown, Professor Solomon began his speech by calling to the stage the Notre Dame faculty members who were in the crowd. More than 25 professors emerged from the crowd.


Professor Solomon went on to applaud the students of the Notre Dame Response Coalition. The students, Solomon said, stood not only in defense of the University, but also as witnesses to the moral principle and intellectual tradition of life. “This University must endeavor to be worthy of students like these,” Solomon declared.


The students of ND Response, Solomon went on to say, struggled to “speak truth to power” and in that struggle proved themselves the beacon that will guide to light the University, particularly the faculty and administrators. Solomon closed his address by calling upon the University to “choose truth over prestige,” saying that the world needs a “healthy and strong" Notre Dame that holds a strong commitment not only to the defense of life, but also a commitment to the Church.


“We cannot afford division at Our Lady’s University,” said Solomon as he spoke of Notre Dame’s role in the culture of life. “The task is too great and the time too short. The University alone cannot solve this issue.”


After the conclusion of speeches, the Rally switched to a live audio and visual feed from the University’s Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, where approximately 700 people had gathered for a “Vigil for Life” in honor of the graduates of Notre Dame’s class of 2009. Fr. Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life, led the Grotto service, which consisted of hymns, pro-life prayers, and a scriptural Rosary.


More than 20 graduates who had chosen not to attend the official commencement ceremony joined the crowd at the Grotto. Following the Rosary, these graduates, along with their families laid white roses at the feet of Our Lady’s image at the Grotto. The white roses represented those ND Response graduates who had chosen to attend the commencement and be a silent pro-life witness at the official ceremony. At the conclusion of the “Vigil for Life,” Fr. Kevin Russeau extended a blessing upon the graduates, who then performed the traditional moving of the tassel of the graduation cap.


The after-show of the Rally and Vigil was filled with joy that would be typical of a commencement day. However, this joy was also different from the usual celebration.


All the seniors who attended the Grotto Vigil felt that the service there was a very positive and special experience. “I don’t feel that I missed out on anything by going to this Vigil and not graduation,” said one senior.


“In so many ways, it felt so much more appropriate and special to celebrate my graduation here at the Grotto,” said senior Michele Sagala. “For four years I have lived under Our Lady’s faithful patronage while here at Notre Dame—what a better way to graduate from this place but here at the Grotto.”


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Benedict XVI reflects on Holy Land visit

Vatican City, May 18, 2009 (CNA) - Reflecting on his trip to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI praised the openness of the people to inter-religious dialogue, the ecumenical atmosphere and the desire for peace in the region.

The Holy Father focused on three main impressions of his trip. The first was the openness of the people "to inter-religious dialogue, to encounter, to collaboration among religions. It is important that everyone should see this not just as an action, let us say, inspired by political motives in the particular situation, but as the fruit of a shared nucleus of faith; because to believe in the one God Who created us all and is Father of us all, to believe in this God Who created humankind as a family, to believe that God is love and wants love to be the dominant force in the world, implicates this coming together, this need for encounter, for dialogue, for collaboration as a requirement of faith itself."

"The second point is that I found a truly encouraging ecumenical atmosphere," he continued. "We held many very cordial meetings with the Orthodox world; I was also able to speak to a representative of the Anglican Church and two Lutheran representatives. It is evident that this atmosphere of the Holy Land also encourages ecumenism."

He then moved on to his third point. "Thirdly, great difficulties exist - we know it, we saw it and we felt it. Yet I also saw that there is a profound desire for peace on all sides. The difficulties are more visible, and we must not hide them, they exist and they must be clarified. Yet what is not so visible is the shared desire for peace and brotherhood, and I feel we must also speak of this, encourage everyone in this desire to find the solutions, the by-no-means-easy solutions, to these difficulties.

"I came as a pilgrim of peace," he concluded. "Pilgrimage is an essential element in many religions: in Islam, in Judaism, in Christianity. It is also the image of our own lives, which are a march forwards towards God and thus towards the communion of humankind.

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Pope praises Matteo Ricci’s evangelization in China

Vatican City, May 18, 2009 (CNA) -

Today the Holy Father sent a message to the Italian Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia for the initiatives planned by the diocese to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of the Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who died in Beijing, China on May 11, 1610.


Matteo Ricci, who was born in Macerata on October 16, 1552, was, the Pope wrote, "gifted with profound faith and extraordinary cultural and academic genius." Ricci "dedicated long years of his life to weaving a profound dialogue between West and East, at the same time working incisively to root the Gospel in the culture of the great people of China. Even today, his example remains as a model of fruitful encounter between European and Chinese civilization."


The Pope continued:  "In considering his intense academic and spiritual activity, we cannot but remain favorably impressed by the innovative and unusual skill with which he, with full respect, approached Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions. It was, in fact, this approach that characterized his mission, which aimed to seek possible harmony between the noble and millennial Chinese civilization and the novelty of Christianity, which is for all societies a ferment of liberation and of true renewal from within, because the Gospel, universal message of salvation, is destined for all men and women whatever the cultural and religious context to which they belong.”


"What made his apostolate original and, we could say, prophetic, was the profound sympathy he nourished for the Chinese, for their cultures and religious traditions", the Holy Father adds. Ricci was likewise "a model of dialogue and respect for the beliefs of others" and "made friendship the style of his apostolate during his twenty-eight years in China," the letter went on.


Ricci remained faithful to this style of evangelization to the end of his life, "using a scientific methodology and a pastoral strategy based, on the one hand, on respect for the wholesome customs of the place, which Chinese neophytes did not have to abandon when they embraced the Christian faith and, on the other, on his awareness that the Revelation could enhance and complete" those customs. As the Fathers of the Church did in the time of the encounter between the Gospel and Greco-Roman culture, the author of the "Treatise on Friendship" undertook his "farsighted work of inculturation of Christianity in China by seeking constant understanding with the wise men of that country."


"Following his example, may our own communities, which accommodate people from different cultures and religions, grow in a spirit of acceptance and of reciprocal respect," the Holy Father concluded.

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Mary Ann Glendon honored by ND student group

South Bend, Ind., May 18, 2009 (CNA) - After previous Laetare Medal winner Judge John T. Noonan concluded his remarks at commencement, a provost of the University informed the crowd they were witnessing something historic: this was the first time a past Laetare Medal winner had been invited back to speak at commencement. What the Provost failed to mention, however, was the reason for Judge Noonan’s invitation: for the first time the Laetare Medal was declined by its intended recipient because of the University’s decision to honor President Obama.

Dr. Mary Ann Glendon was chosen by the University to receive what many consider to be the most prestigious award for an American Catholic. Presented by Notre Dame since 1883, the Laetare Medal honors individuals "whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church, and enriched the heritage of humanity." As a Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican for the past two years, there is not a more suitable candidate for this award than Mary Ann Glendon.

Ironically, the woman whom Notre Dame chose as the exemplar Catholic declined the award for exemplary Catholicism because of the University’s short-comings in Catholicism.

In her letter to Father Jenkins on April 27, 2009, Glendon declined the honor. After learning that President Barrack Obama’s would give the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree at the same ceremony, Glendon explained that her role as the Laetare Medal speaker "has been complicated by a number of factors."

She explained her dismay at learning of Notre Dame’s decision because Obama is a "prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice." Knowing that her acceptance of the Medal and her speech had been used by the University as a way to "balance" the event, Glendon was pushed to decline the medal.

She argued that a commencement "is supposed to a joyous day for graduates and their families" and not "for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision." Because Notre Dame is distinguished and praised for upholding its Catholic identity and tradition, Glendon explained her fear that this decision "could have an unfortunate ripple effect" on other Catholic universities and institutions.

After Glendon announced that she would decline the medal, the University quickly released a statement saying that they would find someone else to receive the Laetare Medal. A few days later, they University had no such luck. They reversed their decision and released a new statement saying that the Laetare Medal would not be awarded this year, but that Judge Noonan, a past Laetare Medal winner, would speak during commencement in place.

While Glendon chose not to come to Notre Dame for commencement, she did graciously accept an award from a Notre Dame student group. The Orestes Brownson Council, part of the student coalition "Notre Dame Response" that opposed the University’s decision to invite and honor President Obama, awarded Dr Glendon the Bishop John M. D’Arcy Award for extraordinary witness to the faith and service to the Church on May 17, 2009 at the group’s "Rally on the Quad" event. John Buttacci, the leader of the council, spoke of Glendon’s courageous witness to the faith and applauded her decision to decline the medal, though she most deserved it.

"Very soon after it was announced that Professor Glendon would be the Laetare Medal recipient, the Council, together with ND Response, decided that she overwhelmingly deserved to be recognized by the students," Buttaci explained.

When Glendon later declined the Laetare Medal, the students did not waver in their desired to honor Glendon themselves. "The students could not be more grateful for her example," Buttaci said.

Even though Professor Glendon could not be present to accept her award, she told students by email correspondence that she was honored to receive the award, named for someone whom she looked up to as a personal hero, Bishop D’Arcy. Further, she said that the students of ND Response gave her "great hope for the future of Notre Dame, the Church and the country."

Bishop D’Arcy, who attended the group’s demonstration that day, blessed the award.

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President of CELAM says celibacy in the Church not up for debate

Managua, Nicaragua, May 18, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno, said during a press conference last week that celibacy “is not up for debate” at CELAM’s 32nd assembly nor “in the Church in general.”

The archbishop made his comments in the wake of the questions raised about celibacy by Father Alberto Cutie of Miami, who has been romantically involved with a woman.

He told reporters that celibacy “is not up for debate at this assembly nor in the Church in general, and so the priest who is ordained also must be prepared to exercise his ministry within the requirements the Church lays out for candidates to the priesthood.”

After noting that celibacy “is a gift from God and a charism proper to the ordained,” the archbishop explained that a man who is ordained “learns the demands of living the ministerial priesthood during the time of his formation.”

Archbishop Damasceno stressed that every priest freely chooses celibacy, “but one needs supernatural and spiritual resources in order to live the total commitment of service to the Church and the people of God.”

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Spain has little to celebrate on World Day of the Family, institute warns

Madrid, Spain, May 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Institute for Family Policy in Spain said last week that the country had little to celebrate on the World Day of the Family, on May 15, because "the government not only is not changing its policy against the family, it is intensifying it."

"In Spain there is little to celebrate, since despite the serious problems that Spanish families are enduring, public officials continue to ignore their needs and even continue proposing gravely harmful measures," the Institute said.

Therefore, the vice president of the Institute, Mariano Martinez Aedo, denounced officials for "seriously neglecting" their constitutionally defined duty to "provide for the social, economic and legal protection of the family."

Due to the lack of a coherent family policy in Spain, the legal age for marriage continues to be younger, the birth rate continues to drop and marriages are increasingly more fragile.

"Faced with this problem, the government only proposes ‘more abortion’ and fast-track divorce," he said.

For this reason, Aedo added, "We call on all political parties, public administrations and social sectors to make a change of direction which will allow the establishing of authentic family policy in Spain."


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Vatican newspaper praises and criticizes Obama in two separate news stories

Vatican City, May 18, 2009 (CNA) - Today the daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano provided two different stories related to President Obama, one slightly positive on his visit to Notre Dame, and another one strongly critical on his stand regarding embryonic stem cell research.

The first article, titled "Obama in search for common ground," reports on President Obama's speech at Notre Dame. "The search for common ground seems to be the road chosen by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to confront the sensitive abortion issue," L’Osservatore says.

The Vatican newspaper also says that Obama chose the ceremony at Notre Dame to restate his position that FOCA "is not a priority for his administration."

"Strong polemics have marked the weeks following the invitation to President Obama made by (ND) President, Fr. John Jenkins. And also yesterday, as was completely predictable, demonstrations were not missing." L'Osservatore acknowledges.

But the article also highlights Obama's invitation "to Americans of all faiths and ideological convictions to hold hands in a common effort to reduce abortions."

A few pages later, L'Osservatore Romano dedicates another, far more critical article of Obama's stand on embryonic stem cell research, marking a clear departure from the somewhat positive evaluation the newspaper recently made of the President’s first 100 days.

The article, titled "Campaign in the US against stem cells," features the effort launched by the U.S. bishops, especially the web site of the USCCB, to oppose Obama's new policy regarding the use of embryos for scientific research.

"According to the new guidelines," the Vatican newspaper says, "after President Barack Obama reversed the decision of the Bush administration regarding the ban on (federal funding for) embryonic stem cell research, for the first time taxpayers' money will be used to kill human beings in embryonic state to obtain stem cells."

In the article, L'Osservatore Romano extensively quotes Cardinal Justin Rigali and Archbishop Charles Chaput, one of the most vocal critics of Obama’s anti-life policies.

"The Archbishop of Denver –the Vatican newspaper says- insists that 'American public life cannot function if we keep our religious beliefs in the closet … the US does not need to be a Christian country, but it cannot survive if it is not open to solidarity and faith."

"Finally," L'Osservatore’s story concludes, "Archbishop Chaput expressed his perplexity regarding the White House opening speech of the U.S. President Barack Obama, the day of his installation, regarding the role of science in society. 'Science’ said the Archbishop of Denver, ‘has to be at the service of human dignity, but will never be above or outside God's moral judgment. Jews, Protestant, Catholics and other believers have a common treasure to protect: faith in God, and we must defend Him with mutual respect without excuses, alibis or conflicts'."

By expressing strong support to the U.S. bishops and quoting Archbishop Chaput’s recent conference at the Becket Fund dinner, L'Osservatore Romano has put to rest speculation that the Vatican was being "unsupportive" of the American Bishops' strong criticism to Obama's anti-life policies.

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Pope urges Peruvian bishops to relaunch the missionary spirit and to seek unity of the Church

Vatican City, May 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Holy Father met with bishops from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference today who recently completed their “ad limina” visit and asked them to relaunch the missionary spirit and work for the unity of the entire Church.


To begin his speech, the Pope spoke of the unity of the whole Church which “is never definitively achieved and must be constantly constructed and perfected, without surrendering to difficulties, be they objective or subjective, and with the aim of showing the true face of the Catholic Church, one and unique."


Noting that “the authentic unity of the Church is always an inexhaustible source of the spirit of evangelization," the Pope expressed his joy at the fact that the prelates had adapted their pastoral programs to accommodate "the missionary impulse promoted by the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, celebrated in Aparecida, and especially the 'Continental mission,' with a view to ensuring that each member of the faithful aspires to sanctity through a personal rapport with the Lord Jesus, loving Him with perseverance and conforming their own lives to evangelical criteria so as to create ecclesial communities of intense Christian life."


"This means relaunching the missionary spirit, not out of fear of the future, but because the Church is a dynamic presence, and the true disciple of Jesus Christ takes pleasure in freely transmitting His divine Word to others and sharing with them the love that flowed from His open side on the cross," he said.


Benedict XVI encouraged the prelates "to unite all the living energies of your dioceses that they may start out again from Christ irradiating the light of His face, especially to brothers and sisters who, perhaps because they feel unappreciated or not sufficiently recognized in their spiritual and material needs, seek answers to their anxieties in other religious experiences."


“Assiduous pastoral visits to ecclesial communities (including the most remote and humble), prolonged prayer, careful preparation of preaching, paternal concern for priests, families, young people, catechists and other pastoral care workers, are the best ways to instill in everyone an ardent desire to be messengers of the Good News of salvation, and will at the same time open the hearts of those around you, especially the sick and those most in need,” he added.


He also highlighted that "the beneficial presence of selfless men and women of consecrated life" in Peru. In this context he called on the bishops to continue their "fraternal accompaniment and encouragement" of such people so that, "living the evangelical counsels according to their own charism, they may continue their robust witness of love for God, unshakeable adherence to Church Magisterium and willing collaboration with diocesan pastoral programs."


Finally, he reminded the Peruvian bishops that "without work or adequate educational and healthcare provisions, and those who live in the suburbs of the great cities or in isolated areas. My thoughts also go to those who have fallen pray to drug addiction and violence. We cannot ignore these our weakest brothers and sisters, beloved unto God, ... Christ's charity urges us on."

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Cardinal Rouco defends right to life of unborn

Madrid, Spain, May 18, 2009 (CNA/Europa Press) - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid presided at a solemn Mass last week honoring the city’s patron, St. Isidore, during which he defended the right to life of the unborn.


Recalling the saint’s love for the poor exemplified by his leaving a place at the table every night for those in need, Cardinal Rouco Varela said that if children are not allowed to be born, “the common table of the human family will be left without children and end up empty.”  For this reason, “No unborn child should be denied the right to be born,” he said, adding that “allowing children to be born is the first and fundamental duty of the love of neighbor and of the love of those in need.”


“If the right to life of every human being is not scrupulously respected, from conception to natural death, we will be left without the fundamental essential ethic for building a social and legal order that is worthy be coming called humane, just and based on solidarity,” he said.

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FOCUS saint households nourish NDSU students

Fargo, N.D., May 18, 2009 (CNA) - Statistically, each fall, many students stop practicing their faith. In order for a student to maintain or grow in his or her faith, it must be nourished. Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionaries Eric Clark and Amanda Anderson recognized this truth, and by the grace of God, took it upon themselves to assist in this nourishment.

According to its Web site,, FOCUS missionaries, stationed on college campuses throughout the nation, seek to "know Christ Jesus and to fulfill His Great Commission by first living and then communicating the fullness of life within the family of God, the Church." FOCUS began its ministry at North Dakota State University in the fall of 2004.

After a retreat, Eric Clark and three NDSU students discussed the possibility of living together in a house of Catholic community near St. Paul’s Newman Center.

"I found out that I wasn’t alone in my desire. These three guys thought how great it would be to live together and pray together," Clark said. After prayer and discernment, they began to prepare a household of fellowship, prayer and work.

Clark first consulted St. Paul’s Newman Center pastor Father James Cheney. Clark then wrote a letter to Bishop Samuel Aquila for permission to rent the house since it is owned by the Fargo Diocese. Discovering that he had written the letter on the Feast Day of St. John Bosco, the men decided to name the community the St. John Bosco Household. St. John Bosco is the patron saint of the formation of men.

"It was amazing to the see the fruits of the guys that lived together that first year. All [three] ended up becoming FOCUS missionaries," Clark said. "The greatest fruit would have to be our commitment to each other. Modern technology has allowed us to be very secluded and individual, but living together in a community allowed us to strive for virtue together."

This commitment to striving for virtue has continued for three years. FOCUS missionaries Jason Eilers and Lucas Martin now live in the St. John Bosco Household with five NDSU students. NDSU senior Dan Kaffar shares that the St. John Bosco Household has positively influenced his faith walk.

"We’re easily able to keep each other accountable living in a Catholic community. All of us strive to establish an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ by attending daily Mass, reading Scripture and really questioning where we are in our faith," Kaffar said. The students meet Monday through Friday for morning prayer, attend a formation meal and Bible study once a week and do chores.

Seeing the fruits of the household, FOCUS missionary Amanda Anderson decided to pray about establishing a women’s household similar to the St. John Bosco Household.

At FOCUS summer training, Anderson heard a talk about nurturing all four relationships severed by the fall of Adam and Eve: between God and man, man and creation, man and fellow man, and man and himself.

"In order to nurture the whole church, you need to nurture all of these relationships in your own spiritual lives: the building up of the community of believers, your personal relationship with God and your responsibility of social justice," Anderson said. She believes that by living in a communal setting, the women can nurture those relationships. Anderson took the idea to prayer, decided to name the community the St. Clare Household and asked two students to live with her and FOCUS missionary Rebecca Sitte during the 2008-2009 school year.

Each week, the students attend Bible study and a formation meal. They meet daily for morning prayer and Mass. The students periodically volunteer for service projects. The women strive to make the house welcoming and practice hospitality.

"Having a community of women to encourage each other in our Christian walk provides stability and helps foster a family environment," Anderson said. "The best part is getting to share my life with other women who are seeking holiness and being able to share in their joys and sorrows."

Dana Petricka, a senior at NDSU, was asked by Anderson to join the household last fall. After living together for an entire school year, the women have developed fruitful relationships with each other and with God, Petricka said.

"It’s one of the best places I’ve lived because we’re all of the same faith and share the same beliefs."

Prior to living in the St. Clare Household, Petricka had attended Sunday Mass at the Newman Center but hadn’t become involved on a daily basis.

"Living right next door to the Newman Center has helped me to be more part of the Newman community and has completely bolstered by faith life and daily Mass attendance."

To learn more about the St. John Bosco and St. Clare Households, visit St. Paul’s Newman Center’s Web site at

Printed with permission from the New Earth, newspaper from the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota.



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Fr. Jenkins, Notre Dame betrayed true goal of Catholic education, archbishop says

Denver, Colo., May 18, 2009 (CNA) - In a strong statement released today, the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, blamed Fr. John Jenkins C.S.C and the University of Notre Dame for betraying the true, original goal of Catholic higher education, not only by conferring a degree on President Barack Obama despite his anti-life record, but for attempting a disingenuous justification for the invitation during his commencement speech on Sunday.

Quoting Fr. Jenkins when he said that "I have found that even among those who did not go to Notre Dame, even among those who do not share the Catholic faith, there is a special expectation, a special hope, for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world;" Archbishop Chaput says that "most graduation speeches are a mix of piety and optimism designed to ease students smoothly into real life. The best have humor. Some genuinely inspire. But only a rare few manage to be pious, optimistic, evasive, sad and damaging all at the same time."

"Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, is a man of substantial intellect and ability. This makes his introductory comments to President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech on May 17 all the more embarrassing."

The Archbishop of Denver recalls in his statement that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame "was never about whether he is a good or bad man. The president is clearly a sincere and able man."

"By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life. We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials. We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good -- insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning."

Nevertheless, Archbishop Chaput adds, "we also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters. And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness."

"Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement. It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history," he says.

According to Archbishop Chaput, in doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, "Catholics in Political Life," ignored "the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree – who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action. It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics."

"Even here in Colorado –Chaput says, - I’ve heard from too many to count."

The Archbishop of Denver claims that "there was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course."

"And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it."

"These are hard words," he admits, "but they’re deserved precisely because of Father Jenkins’s own remarks on May 17: Until now, American Catholics have indeed had ‘a special expectation, a special hope for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.’ For many faithful Catholics – and not just a ‘small but vocal group’ described with such inexcusable disdain and ignorance in journals like Time magazine -- that changed Sunday."

Archbishop Chaput finds in the May 17 events "some fitting irony."

"Almost exactly 25 years ago, Notre Dame provided the forum for Gov. Mario Cuomo to outline the ‘Catholic’ case for ‘pro-choice’ public service."

"At the time, Cuomo’s speech was hailed in the media as a masterpiece of American Catholic legal and moral reasoning. In retrospect, it’s clearly adroit. It’s also, just as clearly, an illogical and intellectually shabby exercise in the manufacture of excuses."

The archbishop also notes that "Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education."

"Together," he adds in his statement, "they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be ‘Catholic’ in the public square."

According to Chaput, the "heart of the matter" is that "Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion."

"Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger. But the damage remains, and Notre Dame’s critics are right."

The Archbishop of Denver says also that "the most vital thing faithful Catholics can do now is to insist – by their words, actions and financial support – that institutions claiming to be ‘Catholic’ actually live the faith with courage and consistency."

"If that happens, Notre Dame’s failure may yet do some unintended good," he concludes.

Read the Archbishop’s full statement:

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