Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said this week Christians should not make material goods the “goal or the absolute end of our mission.”
During the celebration of Sunday Mass, the cardinal explained that “the temporal commitment should be the expression of human fraternity, born of divine sonship, the materialization of the commandment of Christian love.”
He called it “scandalous that in our great city thousands of tons of food are wasted, and a mass number of people wander hungry through our streets, because there is no one to give them those riches that God made for all and not just for the few.”
“Man’s hunger is also spiritual,” the cardinal continued, and therefore “one’s social commitment cannot be separated from the commitment to spiritual salvation because religion then becomes distorted and alienating. The unity of the faith cannot be professed if it is not linked to love, to real love. Christ is not the revolutionary that the people are dreaming of, but neither is he a mystic separated from the world in which others live. Christ is the incarnate Son of God,” the cardinal said.
“The Church and every Christian must make Jesus present first in the production and multiplication of material goods and also in their distribution to those most in need,” he added.
“As long as there is one person dying of hunger, and there are thousands around us, we cannot shrug our shoulders as if we have nothing to do with it,” Cardinal Rivera counseled.
“We must not fall into the temptation that distributing material goods is the task of ‘the U.N. summits,’ of governments or institutions. They all have a responsibility, but as individuals we must contribute to satiating the hunger of the world,” the cardinal stressed. “And not only the hunger for food, but for education, health care, and all of the fundamental rights and needs of the human being.”
Dong Hoi, Vietnam, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - Anti-Catholic violence and police raids at several Catholics’ homes in the Vietnamese coastal city of Dong Hoi have prompted many parishioners to flee for their own safety. Local government officials reportedly wants to create a “No Catholic Zone.”
Police and gangs on the city streets have stopped anyone who wears any Catholic religious symbol in order to beat them savagely.
Those arrested include Nguyen Cong Ly, whose house was used by parishioners of Tam Toa for worship services. During the police search at Ly’s home, a gang of thugs surrounded his house and yelled anti-Catholic slogans suggesting his death, Fr. J.B. An Dang tells CNA.
Tam Toa is the only church in Dong Hoi, a city of 103,000 in the Quang Binh province. Its origins can be traced back to 1631.
The church almost totally collapsed after U.S. air raids in the Vietnam War.
Last week Catholics tried to erect a cross and build an altar on the church grounds, which had been confiscated by the Vietnamese government as a declared war memorial site. Those Catholics were attacked with tear gas, stun guns and batons, wounding many priests and lay people.
According to Fr. An Dang, authorities in Dong Hoi have not been shy about their desire to transform the city into a “No Catholic Zone” like in Son La and several other towns in the Central Highlands. Local authorities deny the existence of Catholics, who live there in the thousands.
Hundreds of Catholic families have reportedly left the city to take refuge in Ha Tinh and Nghe An, both provinces in the Diocese of Vinh.
Fr. Anthony Pham Dinh Phung, chief secretary of the Bishop of Vinh’s office, on Tuesday asked local authorities of Quang Binh to show self-restraint and to behave within the laws.
Though the situation in Dong Hoi is “spinning out of control,” Fr. An Dang tells CNA, the government has not taken any action to restore order or end police brutality against unarmed victims.
“To make matters worse, state media keep urging severe punishments against Tam Toa's Catholics by publishing articles full of the distortion of truth, the defamation of religion, and the instigation of hatred between Catholics and non-Catholics,” Fr. An Dang adds.
All of the more than 600 media outlets in Vietnam are state owned, while the Catholic Church and other religions have no media outlets of their own. The Vietnamese public must rely on independent news sources on the internet, but their access is limited by robust firewalls.
Catholic protests in the Diocese of Vinh continue with parades and meetings which draw tens of thousands of Catholics. Candlelight vigils have sprung up throughout Vietnam, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
“This has been a tremendous source of encouragement to the lonely diocese in its moment of despair and suffering,” Fr. An Dang informs CNA.
Though the Vietnamese government keeps “bragging” internationally about its religious freedom policy, on the other hand it continues to ban Catholic pastoral work in numerous parts of the country, he adds.
Lancashire, England, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - An Anglican cathedral is trying to accommodate those of its faithful who do not accept female clergy by allowing parishioners to decide whether to accept communion bread blessed by its female canon or by a male priest.
Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire recently installed Rev. Sue Penfold as a residential canon. Cathedral canon Andrew Hindley explained the decision to This Is Lancashire, saying it was agreed by all the clergy that it was the best way to handle what they called a “mixed economy.”
The congregation can choose whether to receive communion bread blessed by Rev. Penfold or bread blessed by a male priest at the main cathedral service on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
“This situation is not ideal, but we are trying to be inclusive,” Canon Hindley said, adding that Rev. Penfold had been appointed to Blackburn Cathedral to reflect the “board views” of the Church of England.
The communion practice was announced to worshipers when it was introduced last year but it is reportedly implemented in a “very discreet manner.”
The practice was attacked by Sally Barnes of the Anglican feminist group Women and the Church. She said it was “unacceptable and disgraceful” to turn communion into “a buffet.” She claimed the practice labeled women as “tainted” and that many people in the area have complained about it.
The traditional-leaning Anglican group Forward in Faith, which opposes women bishops, said the practice was unusual. According to This Is Lancashire, group spokesman Stephen Parkinson called it “bonkers” and said he did not understand why the women priests put up with it.
The Church of England began ordaining women to its priesthood in 1994. Some Anglicans have broken with the church on this issue, forming their own associations, while others have left the Anglican Communion for the Catholic or Orthodox Churches or Protestant denominations.
The Catholic Church does not recognize Anglican ordinations or communion ceremonies as valid. Neither the Catholic nor Orthodox Churches recognize the ordination of women as valid.
Melbourne, Australia, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Les Tomlinson, auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, has praised the Australian Football League for its tradition of resisting pressures to schedule games on Good Friday. Reacting to proposals to change the custom, he called on the sports organization to continue to preserve “local culture” and to accommodate the spiritual needs of people in Melbourne.
His comments, published in a statement from the Archdiocese of Melbourne, echo those of the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart in holding that Good Friday is a public holiday because it is a sacred day for Christians.
“We are very proud of Melbourne’s sporting culture,” Bishop Tomlinson said. “Easter and the Easter holidays are a season of the spirit and the spiritual for Christians.”
“It’s not just about the three o’clock ceremony. It is about the day,” he explained. “From our awakening to the end of the day, it is the day Christians remember that Jesus Christ suffered and died for us so that we might know and enjoy the love of God for all eternity.”
According to the Archdiocese of Melbourne statement, the bishop said the AFL has shown courageous leadership by resisting previous pressures to schedule a game for Good Friday.
“I think any proposal to play games on Good Friday fails to properly consider the spiritual needs of people in our community,” he remarked. “Good Friday in Melbourne is part of our local culture, part of our local identity.”
“I urge the AFL to continue to show leadership in this matter; as it has done so effectively in other aspects of sporting culture,” Bishop Tomlinson said.
Greg Swann and Ian Robson, the respective chief executives of the Carlton and Hawthorn AFL teams, are both seeking permission to play on Good Friday, the Melbourne Herald Sun reports.
"We just see it as a great opportunity for the AFL to showcase a game. We are very mindful of the religious views that we need to address and we think we can overcome that," Swann said.
Robson said there are both practical considerations to work through and “very strongly held” religious views about the way Good Friday is “preserved and respected.”
The executives are trying to work with the Good Friday fundraising appeal of the Royal Children’s Hospital as part of their bid.
“It is a special day for a special charity and one that touches Victorians' hearts,” Robson commented, according to the Herald Sun. "If there is one thing that brings Victoria together on this day, it is the way Victorians pour their wallets and hearts out to ensure our most precious assets, our children, have access to world best practice in the facilities at the hospital, and for football to be able to play a part in that would be a fantastic thing."
The North Melbourne AFL team has also asked to host a Good Friday match in most of the past 12 sports seasons. While other Australian football groups have recently begun to schedule matches on Good Friday, the AFL has not.
The former AFL Commission chairman Ron Evans strongly opposed scheduling matches on Good Friday. It is believed his successor, Mike Fitzpatrick, is prepared to debate the question.
Vatican City, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - As it does periodically, the Vatican released a list of highlights and summarizing the past few months. Among the notable events are the World Meeting of Families, the Pope's encouragement of social networking tools, the publication of Benedict XVI's letter on the lifting of the Pius X Society bishops and his trip to Africa.
A list of the highlights from April to July will be published by the Vatican press office tomorrow. The full list for January through March is given below.
1: In the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father presides at Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, which also marks the 42nd World Day of Peace the theme of which is "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace."
3: Publication of a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated December 28, 2008, in which he appoints Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. as papal legate to the Sixth World Meeting of Families, to be celebrated in Mexico City from January 13 - 18.
11: Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Catholic Education and patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, dies at the age of 86.
14-18: Sixth World Meeting of Families celebrated in Mexico City on the theme: "The family, teacher of human and Christian values.” To all the faithful who participate devotedly in the event, the Holy Father grants Plenary Indulgence under the usual conditions: sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
16: Benedict XVI receives prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Iran at the end of their "ad limina" visit. The conference is made up of ordinaries of the Armenian, Chaldean and Latin Churches.
18-25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which, taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, is: "That they may become one in your hand."
18: Benedict XVI announces that the Italian city of Milan will be the site of the next World Meeting of Families, due to take place in spring 2012 on the theme "The Family, Work and Feast."
20: Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, C.M., patriarch emeritus of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, dies at the age of 89.
23: Benedict XVI receives in audience Branko Crvenkovski, president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
23: Benedict XVI receives bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, led by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, elected as patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians by the Synod of Bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, meeting in Rome January 18 - 20.
23: Publication of the Holy Father's Message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications, to be celebrated on May 24 on the theme: "New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."
24: Holy Father receives prelates from the Chaldean Church at the end of their "ad limina" visit. During the audience the bishops give the Pope a cape used by Archbishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul and a stole belonging to Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni, both killed in Iraq over recent months.
26: Benedict XVI receives the Letters of Credence of Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, the new French ambassador to the Holy See.
29: Holy Father receives prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation at the end of their "ad limina" visit.
2: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Janos Balassa, the new ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See.
2: Pope receives bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Turkey at the end of their "ad limina" visit.
3: Presentation of the Holy Father's 2009 Lenten Message, on the theme: "He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry."
7: Publication of the Holy Father's Message for the seventeenth World Day of the Sick, which is celebrated every year on February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
9: Pope receives the Letters of Credence of Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See.
12: Benedict XVI receives the Letters of Credence of Timothy Anthony Fischer, the new ambassador of Australia to the Holy See.
12: Benedict XVI attends a concert commemorating the 80th anniversary of the foundation of Vatican City State. Our Lady's Choral Society and the RTE Concert Orchestra, both from Dublin, Ireland, play the "Messiah" by Georg Friedrich Handel.
14: Benedict XVI receives prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria at the end of their "ad limina" visit.
16: Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, archbishop emeritus of Seoul, Korea, dies at the age of 86.
19: Benedict XVI receives in audience Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom.
22: Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, archbishop emeritus of Hanoi, Vietnam, dies at the age of 89.
27: Holy Father receives in audience Masud Barazani, president of the Autonomous Kurdish Region in Iraq.
1: Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in the Italian city of Bari is returned to the custody of the Patriarchate of Moscow in the course of solemn ceremony held there today. During the celebration, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop emeritus of Palermo, Italy, reads out a Message from the Holy Father.
3-7: International conference on the theme: "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A critical appraisal 150 years after 'The origin of species,'" is held at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
9: Benedict XVI visits Rome Town Hall, located on the city's Capitoline Hill, where he meets Mayor Gianni Alemanno and other civic leaders.
12: Publication of a Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.
14: Benedict XVI receives a first group of prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference at the conclusion of their "ad limina" visit.
14: Benedict XVI receives in audience Edward Fenech Adami, president of the Republic of Malta.
16: Announcement of the Year for Priests, to be held from June 19, 2009 to June 11, 2010 on the theme: "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests." The year marks the 150th anniversary of the death of John Mary Vianney, the holy "Cure of Ars."
17-23: Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola.
19: For the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, the official website of the Holy See is enhanced by the addition of a new section in Chinese.
27: Benedict XVI receives in audience Demetris Christofias, president of the Republic of Cyprus.
29: On this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Pope visits the parish of the Holy Face of Jesus, located in the Magliana neighborhood in the western sector of the diocese of Rome.
31: Publication of Benedict XVI's Message for the 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on May 3, on the theme: "Faith in the divine initiative - the human response."
Castelgandolfo, Italy, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - Swimming fans around the world recently saw Michael Phelps lose to Paul Biedermann in the 400-meter freestyle only to watch him come back and beat his own world record in the 200-meter butterfly. On Saturday, Phelps will enter into an entirely different arena when he is received in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
CNA has learned that Michael Phelps will be present when Pope Benedict meets with 100 swimmers at Castel Gandolfo on Saturday.
The audience with the swimmers will be one of the first activities on the Pope’s schedule after his vacation in the Italian Alps.
Saverio Petrillo, Director of the Papal Villas, confirmed to CNA that the audience will take place at the papal summer residence on Saturday and that the Pope will also pray the Angelus there on Sunday. The Angelus will be followed by a concert.
Les Combes, Italy, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict XVI departed from his vacation villa in northern Italy, he thanked the staff that attended to him and called them his “invisible and efficient angels.”
From the balcony where he prayed the Angelus on Sunday, July 26, the Holy Father addressed police officers, firefighters, and staff from the Vatican Health Care Services and said, “Dear friends, at the conclusion of these two weeks of vacation, I thank you from my heart for such competent, discreet and efficient service.”
“You have been like angels: angels are invisible but at the same time efficient. You have been such as well. You were invisible to me, but always efficient,” he added. The Pope said he spent his vacation in “heavenly peace” and in silence interrupted only be “the sounds of the Creator,” such as the singing of birds.
New York City, N.Y., Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - Following concern about some of his comments on abortion, pro-life Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione has clarified his position. Saying his words were taken “out of context,” he endorsed defending the unborn child “with all possible means” and stated he did not want to do anything to split the U.S. pro-life movement.
Buttiglione, a Christian Democrat politician and political science professor, is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. He was reported recently as saying that Italian pro-lifers’ opposition to the decriminalization of abortion was a “mistake.”
Speaking in a July 28 interview with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute's “Friday Fax,” he said his remarks had created “quite a big mess.”
Describing the history of the Italian pro-life movement, he noted that a 1981 referendum on abortion was a “terrible defeat” for the pro-life cause, losing by 68 to 32 percent.
“In Italy the people freely chose abortion – a tremendous defeat for the cause of life,” he said.
Reporting that the situation has improved, as evidenced by a successful referendum on embryo research, he said pro-lifers would still lose another referendum on abortion.
“On the other hand, while there is no majority in favor of banning abortion in Italy, there is a majority that thinks that abortion is too widespread, and something should be done to reduce abortion,” he added.
The Italian pro-life movement now aims to ban abortion after 20 weeks, Buttiglione told the Friday Fax.
Discussing his reported comments about it being a “mistake” to oppose abortion decriminalization, he said his statement was “simplified.”
“I did not say it was wrong to seek to defend the rights of the child through the use of the penal code. I did not say that. The life of the child should be defended with all possible means. With penal law? Yes, of course, with penal law, where possible.
“But this is not possible in Italy today, so we must rely on other means. We must realize that we do not have a consensus on an abortion ban.”
However, he suggested pro-lifers in the past have relied “too much” on penal sanction, which is only the “one element” in the defense of life.
“If we do not remove the causes that lead so many women to abort, we will not win our battle against abortion,” he told C-FAM. “We will not win our battle against abortion relying only on penal sanction.”
He urged nations which retain abortion restrictions to defend their laws against abortion and also to complement such laws with “good policies in defense of motherhood, and for the support of mothers.”
Otherwise the pressure to remove abortion restrictions will be too strong, he believed.
“You cannot pit the support of the mother against the penal defense of the life of the child. They are two parts of one strategy to defend life. It is always better to have two legs.”
He noted that the pro-life movement has global and local aspects and must proceed on a strategy based on “prudential judgments” that respond to the particular circumstances of each nation.
Turning to U.S. politics, Buttiglione said it was important to seek “positive contact” with the Obama administration. He noted the president’s promise to Pope Benedict XVI that he would work to reduce abortions.
“I also want to reassure pro-lifers that we are not giving up on the life of one single child.
“We are not making an exchange, accepting the killing of a certain number of unborn children, in exchange for saving the lives of certain others. That is emphatically not what we are doing, and we do not renounce our principles.”
“[I]t is easy in the press to try to break the unity of the pro-life movement,” he continued. “Of course I want to be able to speak on friendly terms with the Obama administration – I know this is blasphemy to many pro-lifers in the United States! But on the other hand I want to be understood by American pro-lifers, and I do not want to break the unity of our front.”
In Buttiglione’s view, common ground efforts between pro-lifers and pro-choicers only have a “limited setting” in which compromise of pro-life principles is “completely unacceptable.”
In his Friday Fax interview, he also explained his push for a United Nations resolution that would ban the use of abortion as an instrument of population control. In some countries mothers are blackmailed to abort by conditions placed on assistance.
This cause could unite some who are “pro-choice” with those who are pro-life.
“I want to make one thing clear, no one has renounced principles,” the Italian politician said. “Both sides will continue to struggle against each other on other issues, but at least on this one, we can be united.”
In 2004, Buttiglione was nominated as a commissioner of justice on the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. His nomination was stalled because of objections to his Catholic views on the immorality of homosexual conduct.
Buttiglione is planning a visit to the U.S. this fall to speak to pro-life leaders about his U.N. initiative.
To read the full interview with Rocco Buttiglione visit: http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1328/pub_detail.asp
New York City, N.Y., Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - As Americans continue to shift towards pro-life views, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has issued a report analyzing the continuing decline in abortion providers and calling for abortion to be accepted as a part of mainstream health care.
In its “Defending Human Rights” report, the CRR voiced its concern over the declining number of abortion providers throughout the country. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortion providers in the U.S. declined by 25% between 1992 and 2005.
The report found that some states in the U.S. currently have as few as one abortion provider. International abortion providers are struggling as well, as indicated by the ending of the Women on Waves organization, which used to operate a boat in international seas, providing abortifacient pills for women living in countries where abortion is illegal.
In particular, the CRR noted with concern that there are “few new, young doctors entering the field” and as a result, the number of abortion providers “is dwindling almost across the board.”
The CRR attributes this decrease to harassment and attacks that it claims are “routinely targeted” at abortion providers and clinics.
Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told CNA that she believes the real reason for this decrease in abortionists is the nature of abortion itself.
“I think they have been diminishing in number for years because this is the type of trade that is contrary to the reason that people go to medical school,” said Spaulding Balch, observing that most people enter the medical field with hopes of preserving and saving life, not destroying it.
“It’s difficult to find people willing to be abortionists,” she said. “It’s not easy on the nerves.”
Spaulding Balch believes that the lack of young doctors entering the abortion industry is due largely due to a change in perspective due to new technology, including ultrasounds and fetal surgery. The older generation of doctors began practicing when ultrasounds were not common and fetal surgery was nonexistent, she explained.
But developments in those two areas make it very clear that the unborn child is indeed a living human being. “Newer generations of doctors are understanding the unborn child as the second patient,” she told CNA.
The CRR report also denounced laws requiring a waiting period before obtaining an abortion, as well as those that require an ultrasound to be performed, or counseling and materials to be given to women. The publication claimed that such information is “irrelevant, unnecessary, misleading, or medically inappropriate information” for women considering an abortion.
Spaulding Balch responded to this claim by saying that abortion supporters are hesitant to inform women because “the more information a woman has on the subject, the less likely she is to go forward with the abortion.”
“If they were truly pro-choice, as they claim to be, they would not be afraid of giving the woman more information, so that she can make the best choice possible,” she continued, noting the important role of information in true consent.
Rather than being “irrelevant” or “medically inappropriate,” Spaulding Balch explained to CNA that the information required to be given to women seeking an abortion is actually “simple and basic.”
This information includes a description of what the abortion procedure entails, possible risks of the procedure and possible alternatives. “This would be considered normal and reasonable information for any other procedure,” she said.
“This information is all reasonable, rational, and relevant to the decision the mother is about to make.”
Another topic included in the CRR report is the “stigma” of abortion providers among medical professionals and the general public. The document says that abortion is “marginalized and perceived as ‘dirty’ and outside of normal medicine practice,” and that this negative image results in many doctors refusing to perform, assist in, or even refer abortions.
The report claims that this stigma exists “because abortion is not integrated into mainstream healthcare.”
Saying that it is a “normal human reaction” for people to be repulsed by the idea of abortion, Spaulding Balch rejected CRR's argument. “There is something inherently evil about it,” she said, explaining that people understand this instinctively, and that is why they are still not comfortable with it, even 30 years after its legalization.
Spaulding Balch contrasted abortion with other medical procedures that are uncommon or may be otherwise “not integrated into mainstream health care,” but which the general public does not view with distrust. The fact that it is not mainstream health care is not the cause of the revulsion, she said. Rather, it is the horror of the abortion itself. “There is an inherent distinction between treating a rare disease and killing a living human.”
The publication of the report comes amid discussions of a health care reform package that would allow abortion to be required as a minimum health care benefit. Spaulding Balch explained to CNA that abortion advocates are working intensely to have the package approved in an attempt to save the dying industry.
“The abortion industry knows that they need this for their survival. They must make abortion part of mainstream health care, or the industry will see its demise,” she said.
Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - Experts from around the country gathered at the U.S. Strategic Command on Offutt Air Force Base to participate in the first nuclear weapons Deterrence Symposium. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien delivered the keynote address at the summit and said that terrorism shows the U.S. must "move beyond nuclear deterrence as rapidly as possible."
The symposium, which was held in Omaha, Nebraska, brought together academic, government, military and international experts to explore the full range of deterrence thinking.
Drawing on his experience as the former Archbishop for Military Services and his current position on the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, Archbishop O'Brien urged the world and its leaders to "stay focused on the destination of a nuclear-weapons-free world and on the concrete steps that lead there."
In his talk, Archbishop O’Brien drew on longstanding Catholic teaching that nuclear deterrence is only acceptable to prevent others from using nuclear weapons and as a step along a path to a world without nuclear weapons. Among his sources for this teaching were the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. bishops.
Nuclear deterrence is not "a long-term basis for peace," he argued, adding that "…the spread of nuclear weapons and technology to other nations, and the threat of nuclear terrorism, which cannot be deterred with nuclear weapons, point to the need to move beyond nuclear deterrence as rapidly as possible."
Archbishop O’Brien also proposed several concrete steps that the Church endorses for achieving total nuclear disarmament. His steps included the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and the revision of military doctrines of nuclear weapon states to "renounce the first use of nuclear weapons" and "declare they will not be used against non-nuclear threats."
Arriving at total nuclear disarmament will be difficult, Archbishop O'Brien said, urging political and religious leaders to forge ahead.
"They know the path will be difficult and will require determined political leadership, strong public support, and the dedicated skills of many capable leaders and technical experts. But difficult is not impossible," he said.
The full text of Archbishop O’Brien’s talk, "Nuclear Weapons and Moral Questions: The Path to Zero," can be found online at: www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/nuclearzero.shtml
Budapest, Hungary, Jul 30, 2009 (CNA) - The Sixth European Congress of the Christian Family Movement took place last week at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma in Hungary. The keynote speaker, Bishop László Bíró, explained to participants that families must rediscover their values in order to pass the faith onto others.
The conference, which had the theme, “The renewal of Europe through the spiritual renewal of families,” was attended by 560 people ranging from children to the elderly. The participants came from countries such as Hungary, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Portugal, Malta, Norway, Thailand, Japan and the U.S.
One organizer, Krisztina Menesi explained to CNA that the conference takes place every three years and has been held in recent years in Valencia, Spain; Zagreb, Croatia and Prague, Czech Republic.
The conference’s main talks were given by Bishop László Bíró who explained that spiritual renewal is necessary in order to evangelize society: “Spiritual renewal means starting again from Jesus Christ. It means rediscovering our values: the institution and the sacrament of marriage, the biblical image of man and the domestic church. It is the authentic realization of these values in our lives and the overflow of this life and faith that make it possible for us to pass on faith to others.”
He continued, “This is our mission, a responsibility for each one of us, within the family and, through the family, in society."
A highlight for many attendees was daily Mass in the 1,000 year-old Basilica of Pannonhalma celebrated by Bishop Bíró along with priests from all over the world. Participants were able to join the Benedictine monks for their prayers at various times throughout the day. Other activities included listening to classical music, wine tasting and dancing.
Menesi noted that the families left the conference with a deeper understanding of faith, hope and joy. She described the experience as, “the joy of belonging together in Christ, of being signs of Love and Life despite all we see in today's world, the joy of being strengthened by the presence of so many families with the same faith and values.”
The next European Congress will be held in Slovakia in 2012.