Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - In 2003 the Episcopal Church was nearly torn in two by the nomination of the openly homosexual V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. After a recent vote at the church's general convention to lift a moratorium on consecrating gay bishops, two dioceses have selected nominees who will test the vote.
The Diocese of Los Angeles announced on Sunday that it had narrowed its search for two assistant bishops down to six candidates. The slate of potential bishops includes Mary Douglas Glasspool, who is a practicing lesbian, and John L. Kirkley, a homosexual. Other nominees are: Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, Rev. Zelda M. Kennedy, Rev. Silvestre E. Romero and Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez.
The assistant bishops will serve under the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Bishop Bruno, who held one-on-one meetings with the candidates, said, "I affirm each and every one of these candidates, and I am pleased with the wide diversity they offer this Diocese."
The final decision on who will be selected as an assistant bishop will take place at the Diocesan Convention in Riverside, California on December 4-5.
The Diocese of Minnesota also included a lesbian candidate in their slate of three nominees to serve as the ninth Bishop of Minnesota. The search committee began the process of finding a bishop last year and will conclude their search on September 25. The next bishop will be chosen on October 31.
The nomination of openly homosexual candidates as bishops has divided the Episcopal Church and resulted in dozens of churches and four dioceses breaking away to form the Anglican Church in North America in late June.
Concern from other member churches in the Anglican Communion caused U.S. church leaders to promise to exercise restraint before consecrating additional gay bishops following the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.
However, at their General Convention in Anaheim last month, laity, clergy and bishops voted to allow homosexuals into "any ordained ministry" thereby effectively reversing their earlier decision. They also agreed to consider rites of blessing for same-sex couples.
The decision to include practicing homosexuals in the list of candidates could put Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' proposition for a “two track” Church to a test if any of the gay candidates are selected as a bishop.
Madrid, Spain, Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Institute for Family Policy in Spain, Eduardo Hertfelder, noted last week that the population in the European Union has reached 500 million, but he warned that this is due more to immigration than to the number of births, as 8 out of every 10 inhabitants of the EU are immigrants.
“It has been a population increase due almost exclusively to immigration and in addition, it has been a population increase among adults that has led to the average age of the European population increasing almost two years in this decade,” Hertfelder said, referring to the fact that Europe has “775,000 less births per year than 25 years ago.”
He pointed out that Spain is the country that has most contributed to the increase in the number of inhabitants of Europe, followed by France and Italy, but he noted that of the 6.8 million new inhabitants in Spain, “more than 4.8 million were immigrants, which comprises 72% of the growth.”
“In fact, more than four fifths of the growth is due to immigration. Without this contribution from immigration, the population growth both in Spain and the rest of the EU would have almost been insignificant,” he explained.
However, he warned, what is most troubling is that in depending almost exclusively on immigration because of the low birthrates in the EU, the average age among Europeans is now 40.3, “that is, the average age in Europe has increased two years in just five years.”
New Orleans, La., Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) -
Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, (R-New Orleans), the first Vietnamese-American congressman and a Catholic, announced this past weekend that, because of the “stealth mandate” for abortion still present in the Health Care bill, he prefers to “save his soul” rather than vote in favor of it.
Cao, the only member of the Louisiana House delegation who had not weighed in on where he stands on the health reform bill, told the Times-Picayune on Saturday that he cannot support any bill that permits public money to be spent on abortion.
“At the end of the day if the health care reform bill does not have strong language prohibiting the use of federal funding for abortion, then the bill is really a no-go for me,” said Cao, who spent time in formation to be a Jesuit priest.
“Being a Jesuit, I very much adhere to the notion of social justice,” Cao said. “I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives,” he explained to the Louisiana newspaper.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that Cao will be one of seven Republican members of Congress targeted with radio ads that will play on radio stations with largely African-American audiences, urging him to support Obama's health reform efforts.
“I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career,” Cao said, “but I have to live with myself, and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, ‘How does it profit a man's life to gain the world but to lose his soul.’”
Cao is the first native of Vietnam to serve in Congress and the first Republican to serve in his district since 1890. He won in a district that usually votes overwhelmingly Democratic.
The poorest member of Louisiana's delegation, and a devout Roman Catholic, Cao served as a board member for Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church's Community Development Corporation which assists Vietnamese-Americans with hurricane relief, and is a member of the National Advisory Council of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Cao also told the Times-Picayune that he is still undecided about the merits of including a public option in any health reform redesign. He believes that it may ultimately lead to the destruction of the private insurance market and a "government takeover" of health insurance.
Mallorca, Spain, Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - This past Friday, Archbishop Juan del Rio Martin of the Military Archdiocese of Spain conveyed the solidarity and closeness of Benedict XVI to the family members and friends of the victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Mallorca.
During the funeral Mass for Officers Carlos Saenz de Tejada Garcia and Diego Salva Lezaun, which was attended by Bishop Jesus Murgui of Mallorca and the family members and friends of the victims, Archbishop Martin said the men were “vilely killed by the hurtful cruelty of ETA’s terrorist strategy.”
“These acts of violence not only gravely violate the right to life, freedom and the peaceful coexistence of the peoples of Spain, but also are an attempt to intimidate us and subject us to their intrinsically perverse and unjustifiable totalitarianism,” he said.
“We must not be discouraged even though the difficulties in ending terrorism and building peace are many. The ‘sons of terror’ do not have the last word in this struggle, but rather those like these two young police officers, who work for peace, justice, defense and the freedom of society,” the archbishop said.
He said their deaths would bear “the fruit of truth, kindness and beauty, which we all need in this life to continue forward in hope,” and that amidst the doubts that so many are experiencing, we must not lose sight of the Lord.
“Today in this Cathedral of Mallorca,” the archbishop said, “the Spanish Conference of Bishops and the Pope wish to say to the family members and police officers here present: take courage, be brave, fear not, you are not alone, you have our support, affection and solidarity.”
Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - Catholics United has once again come out in defense of the health care reform bill, claiming that the recently approved Capps Amendment will prevent an abortion mandate. But that claim is being hotly contested by pro-life organizations and lawmakers who say that, in practice, abortions will be federally funded if the legislation passes in September.
In a statement released on Monday, Catholics United welcomed the House Energy and Commerce Committee's decision last week to include language in proposed health care legislation “prohibiting taxpayer dollars from funding abortion services.”
Catholics United was referring to an amendment put forward by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.). According to Catholics United's assessment, the amendment “stipulates that abortion coverage cannot be included in a government-defined essential benefits package, that private insurers participating in the public program cannot be forced to cover abortion services and that plans cannot discriminate against health care providers who do not perform abortions.”
“The inclusion of the Capps Amendment represents a positive step toward health care reform that preserves existing policies prohibiting federal funding for abortion services and ensuring conscience protections for health care providers,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United.
“While some questions do remain, we are confident that health care reform legislation, when finalized, will represent a workable common ground solution that can find broad support from across the spectrum of the abortion debate.”
According to Catholics United, “despite last week's developments, the Family Research Council has refused to discontinue a misleading television advertising campaign intended to scare viewers into opposing the health reform package. Incredibly, the Family Research Council went as far as to denounce the Capps Amendment as evidence that the current legislative proposal will fund abortions.”
“The Family Research Council's continued effort to distort the facts leads one to wonder whether the group's true intent is to derail health care reform. Instead of issuing misleading attacks and inciting fear, the Family Research Council would do better to support efforts aimed at implementing abortion-neutral policies in health care reform legislation.”
Catholics United has committed to “build support for health care reform within faith communities” in key states throughout the August Congressional recess.
But the Family Research Council insists that Korzen has either been deceived or is being deceptive.
In a statement emailed to CNA, the FRC said that, contrary to what Catholics United asserts, the Capps amendment would actually “specifically include abortion in the health care legislation, solidifying the radical pro-abortion nature of this bill.”
According to Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins, “it has been clear to many that the health bills moving through Congress would fund abortion services and mandate coverage for abortion, jumping well beyond the current law which prohibits the funding or subsidizing of abortion.”
“While many abortion proponents claimed we were incorrect in our conclusions, even the most strident deniers would have to agree the amendment offered by Rep. Capps puts the matter to rest. The Capps measure would include both abortion coverage and funding in the 'public option' and the private plans that would be part of the bills' 'Exchange' provision,” Perkins explained.
“The current health care bill –he added- is one huge abortion edict. Adding subterfuge to subterfuge, after an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) to prevent mandatory abortion coverage in public or private plans passed in the committee, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called a re-vote on the amendment and Tennessee Democrat Bart Gordon switched his vote to the pro-abortion side.”
Perkins stated that “even those who claim abortion is not included cannot possibly deny that abortion is explicitly in the legislation because of the Capps amendment.”
“Seventy-one percent of Americans, according to recent polling data, do not want legislation to require insurers to cover abortion, putting the House legislation at complete odds with the will of those they are supposed to represent,” said Perkins.
Mentioning the six Democrats who “held their ground and fought to keep the status quo by keeping government out of the abortion industry,” Perkins said that FRC Action commends them.
“Americans need to hold those who want them to pay for abortion in a public plan to account,” said Perkins.
FRC’s position has been supported by several congressmen, including some “Blue Dog” Democrats. In fact, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) believes the Capps amendment is a “phony compromise,” according to his press secretary.
Congressman Charlie Melancon, (D-Napoleonville,) voted against the committee's health care reform bill last Friday night, citing his concerns about its inclusion of a public option and its opening the door to public funding of abortion.
“I am concerned that the public option, as designed, would unfairly undercut anything the private sector could offer,” Melancon said. “As someone who is personally pro-life and represents a deeply pro-life constituency, I am also concerned that this bill does not do enough to ensure taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion.”
Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) said in a statement that the amendment “would still allow for taxpayer funding to pay for plans that cover abortion. This is a fig leaf, designed to lure votes from Members who want cover on the issue. The American people will not be fooled. We want an explicit exclusion in the bill to prevent any taxpayer funding from paying for abortions. Anything else is wrong, and contrary to overwhelming popular opinion.”
Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, also reminded voters that Lois Capps’ pro-life vote-scorecard is 0 for 74. Her amendment, he explained, would allow the "public option" to provide coverage for elective abortions and would allow federally subsidized private plans to provide abortion coverage as well.
“Because money is fungible, it's difficult to say that tax dollars wouldn't fund abortions through this plan. Federal subsidies would also flow to private plans that cover elective abortions, under meaningless bookkeeping schemes -- and the amendment actually creates a federal mandate that there must be at least one private abortion plan in each premium rating areas of the health insurance exchange.”
“The status quo is that nobody has federally subsidized health care that includes abortion,” Johnson reminded.
London, England, Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - Geffen UK/Universal Records has announced that a new recording of Marian hymns and prayers by Pope Benedict XVI entitled, “Alma Mater,” will be released at the end of November, with proceeds going towards music education programs in poor countries.
The CD will include hymns in Latin, Portuguese, Italian and German, and will be released on November 30. It will also contain litanies and prayers. The Pope’s voice will be accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, directed by Pablo Colino.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Britain will also record music for the CD at London’s Abbey Road studios. Vatican Radio will provide recordings of the Pope’s voice.
“We are excited that Pope Benedict XVI appreciates and has given his blessing to this project,” said Colin Barlow, president of Geffen UK.
Brasilia, Brazil, Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - The Santos Historical and Geographical Institute in Brazil is preparing to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the invention by Father Bartholomeu de Gusmao, a learned Brazilian priest who presented the King and Queen of Portugal with the first model of an airship that would use hot air to fly.
In order to commemorate the anniversary of the invention, Gusmao’s native city of Santos has prepared a schedule of activities that includes the release of a postal stamp and will culminate with the transfer of the “Flying Father’s” remains, which until now had been interred at the Cathedral of Sao Paulo.
In addition to his pastoral activity, Father Gusmao was one of the first scientists of the new world. He devoted much time to the invention of revolutionary ideas, such as the first airship. He also invented several hydraulic machines to increase production and to ease human labor, which usually fell heavily upon the slave population.
The Institute will present an expo on the Flying Father’s inventions beginning on August 3.
Madrid, Spain, Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - On November 7, some 10,000 volunteers will light a million and a half candles for each of the children and young people missing from the Spanish population since abortion was legalized in 1985.
The initiative is being organized by pro-life organizations and by the Fourth International Pro-Life Congress which will take place in Zarazoga November 6-8, 2009.
Up to now, some seven thousand Spaniards have sponsored a candle for life with a donation or a text message sent within Spain to 7745 with the word “Vela.”
Organizers hope to light the massive line of candles stretching across several city blocks on the night of November 7.
Each volunteer will light 150 candles, which will remain lit from 10 p.m. to midnight and later will be collected by volunteers when the event ends.
The purposes of the campaign are to bring attention to the benefit that these people would have been to our society, to raise money for the Fourth International Pro-Life Congress and for an assistance program for women in troubled pregnancies. This will help ensure that "nobody will choose abortion, especially because of economic reasons or because of a lack of support,” Congress organizer Antonio Gasos said.
Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug 3, 2009 (CNA) - Catholics from 178 parishes of the Diocese of Vinh held another massive protest on Sunday, demanding an end to overt persecution against Catholics in Dong Hoi. They also demanded the return of Church and individual properties illegally seized by police and an immediate halt to the ongoing propaganda and defamation campaign in the state media.
The protesters carried banners denouncing the government of Dong Hoi’s violence against priests, religious and lay Catholics. According to VietCatholic News, they marched with “sheer determination”
on the streets.
Other dioceses throughout Vietnam simultaneously observed moments of silence in a show of solidarity and prayer for victims of police and government-backed gangs. They also prayed for the safety of Catholics in Dong Hoi.
In front of the bishop’s office in the Diocese of Vinh, an estimated 10,000 Catholics joined together in protest.
Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai told VietCatholic News that protesters came to show how outraged they were by news of Catholic families who had been beaten and robbed by government thugs.
They came to convey the message that “enough is enough” to what the priest called “the source of the problem, the mishandling of the government.”
“A typical, regrettable example was Mr. Peter Mai Van Truong, 48, and his wife ... were beaten to half-death, and all his properties including necessary means to earn a living were confiscated without a warrant,” Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai reported.
According to reports, the story of the couple’s brutal attack has become symbolic of a “harsh reality” that Catholics and other citizens face at the hands of the government.
On July 27, Truong and his wife were traveling from Ky Anh Province to Dong Hoi to visit his brothers and
sisters at Tam Toa Catholic Parish. On the way, they were ambushed by government-backed gangs.
Having recognized them as Catholics, the gang beat them savagely and took away Truong’s motorbike, his driver license and other documents as well as his money and a camera from a friend valued at about $500,” the priest said, adding that the attack happened in broad daylight as uniformed police officers looked on and did nothing.
“Passersby took me to a hospital where I was beaten savagely the second time as the gang took me for a priest,” Truong said from his bed at Cua Lo Hospital.
“He has escaped death, but with broken ribs and head injuries his condition remains very serious,” Fr. Peter Nguyen continued, asking for fervent prayers from Catholics in Vietnam and abroad.
Sr. Emily Nguyen reported from Vinh that the situation in Dong Hoi might “spin out of control” because the local government continues to use “hired thugs” and “disaffected youth” to attack Catholics. Further, state media spread negative images of Catholics while distorting the truth, defaming religion and promoting hatred between Catholics and non-Catholics.
“People start shouting out short slogans such as ‘blood shed’ and ‘martyrdom’ as a response to the chanting of thousands of thugs on the streets: ‘Kill them all!’, ‘Kill their priests,’ using profane and violent language. It’s extremely volatile,” she warned.
The chief secretary of the Diocese of Vinh, Fr. Anthony Pham Dinh Phung, issued a July 31 statement on behalf of the diocese, demanding the immediate release of other Catholics who are still behind bars.
“The Church tries its best to calm down its faithful,” he wrote, warning that the government must “take responsibility should the persecution keep going.”
According to VietCatholic News, the government seems unready for peaceful dialogue. On Sunday night state television broadcast a report on the clash at Tam Toa Church with very negative coverage of the Church and the Diocese of Vinh.
Catholics in Dong Hoi claim that the local government has instigated hatred against Catholics near the church of Tam Toa through false reports that the Church has demanded not only the ground of the confiscated church building, but also all lots of the surrounding land, including lots on which non-Catholics have built their houses.