Archive of August 4, 2009

Pakistani bishop decries police inaction in wake of deadly anti-Christian violence

London, England, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic bishop in Pakistan has responded to the anti-Christian attacks over the weekend, deeming them some of the worst attacks Christians have suffered in the country. He lamented the “half-hearted and ineffective” police response to threats against Christians.

On Saturday a mob of nearly 3,000 violent Muslims looted and burned a Christian neighborhood of Gojra city in the Punjab province, killing at least six Christians by burning them to death.

The attacks reportedly took place in reaction to a rumor that the Koran was desecrated in a nearby village. The desecration was alleged to have taken place when children cut up pages from an old school book to use as wedding confetti. The school book supposedly contained verses from the Koran.

The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports that not six but eight Christians were burned to death, including nine-year-old Umia Alnaf, her mother Asifa, and ten-year-old Mausa Masih. A 22-year-old named Asia Victar and her mother Eerueen were among the dead, as were two men in their 70s.

More than 20 people were injured in the attacks by the mob, which carried sticks, clubs and a small number of firearms. The mob set fire to property including more than 50 homes and two Protestant churches.

Two days before the attack in Gojra City, gangs set fire to more than 70 Christian homes and two small Protestant churches in the nearby village of Korian. They had demanded that Taalib Masih, the father of the boy who allegedly cut up Koran verses, be hanged for blasphemy against Islam. However, Christians were forewarned of the attack and escaped before the mob arrived.

The Bishop of Faisalabad Joseph Coutts spoke with ACN in an interview from Pakistan. He said there is “a lot of anger” among the people concerning the attacks.

“Emotions are running extremely high. People could respond in any way. This is undoubtedly one of the worst attacks we have faced.”

While arson and looting were too common, the bishop said, the attacks were the first in recent memory in which Christians had been killed in an act of religious hatred.

On Sunday Bishop Coutts presided at the funerals of those who died in the Gojra violence.

Speaking to ACN, he said the police response to the well publicized threats against Gojra was “half-hearted and ineffective.” Highlighting the number of recent anti-Christian attacks, he charged that the threat to their safety was being ignored.

“In all these cases, the police did almost nothing to stop the rampaging mobs. Condolences, apologies and assurances [always] pour in from officials and other citizens after the event, but the timely action required to prevent such incidents has always been missing.”

Bishop Coutts alleged that a banned militant religious group was behind the attacks. The group reportedly aims to carry out “a sort of religious cleansing” to turn Pakistan into an Islamic theocratic state where non-Muslims must convert or leave.

The bishop has repeatedly called for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Perpetrators of crimes or disrespect towards the Koran or Mohammed can face life imprisonment or the death penalty in a system of summary justice.

Bishop Coutts told also said that Muslim leaders have sent many messages of condolences. He also stressed the continuing need to work towards inter-religious cooperation.

The bishop will be the chief celebrant at ACN UK’s Westminster Event at Westminster Cathedral on October 17.

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Anti-Christian vandals target World Congress of Families meeting

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - The Amsterdam offices of an organizer for the upcoming World Congress of Families were defaced with paint and vandalized with obscenities and anti-Christian slogans last Thursday, prompting the pro-family conference’s leaders to pledge they will not be intimidated by “radical opposition.”

The World Congress of Families V (WCF V) is to take place in Amsterdam on August 10-12 at the RAI Centre. In its pamphlet for the event, the Congress describes itself as the world’s largest gathering of pro-family leaders and grass-roots activists. It bills the event as “the most exciting and inspiring international pro-family event of the year.”

On July 30, the Amsterdam building of EuroCongress, the professional conference organizer for the event, was defaced by unknown vandals.

The Dutch Chairman of WCF V, Simon Polinder, said the vandalism was “really outrageous.”

Commenting in a press release, he said:

“We are organizing an international family congress, with which we intend to bring attention to the positive value of the family. This group evidently disagrees with that goal. Apparently they are not able to enter into a civilized conversation with us."

The Congress’ managing director Larry Jacobs said it was the first incident in 12 years of international congresses.

Acknowledging that the Congress’ opponents disagree with its stands on issues like marriage, abortion, euthanasia, parental rights, pornography, and prostitution, he said it was “amazing” that “anti-family activists” believe they have a right to engage in vandalism.

He characterized the vandalism as an attempt to intimidate Congress attendees.

“This isn't the first indication we've had of radical opposition to WCF V,” Jacobs explained.

The group Autonomous Feminist Action has held organizing meetings against the Congress, which it characterizes as a group of “fundamentalistic” Christians who will “plead for going back to the Christian traditions of traditional relationship between man and woman (sic.).”

Autonomous Feminist Action had posted a drawing of a stenciled man and a woman with a child and a cross between them. A dotted line goes through the necks of the couple, near whom a pair of scissors is drawn as if ready to cut off their heads.

“We will not be intimidated by these uncivilized, criminal tactics,” Jacobs insisted. “This latest outrage makes it more important than ever to broadcast a positive, hopeful message of the centrality of the natural family to the heart of the European Union.”

While the vandals used anti-Christian slogans, the Congress is inter-religious in nature and includes scholars and leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, Islamic, Protestant and secular backgrounds. The Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands is scheduled to speak at the event.

Many of the WCF speakers do not agree on specific religious practices but share values and principles concerning family, marriage and children, a press release says. It adds that the WCF will examine the “critical importance” of the family for human societies.

Participants at the conference include the president of the Pakistan Family Forum, the Archbishop of Utrecht, a representative of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, and a bishop of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia. Monsignor Carlos Simón Vazquez, a sub-secretary of the Pontifical Council on the Family, will also speak.

Congress participants from the U.S. include Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; president of the Population Research Institute Steven W. Mosher; and Dr. Allan Carlson, WCF founder and president of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

The Congress’ website is at

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Catholic Charities receives large federal contract for disaster relief

Alexandria, Va., Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - Catholic Charities USA has received a five-year, 100 million dollar federal contract to aid in disaster relief throughout the United States. The contract is the charity’s first ever federal contract.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Administration for Children and Families (ACF) section awarded the contract to Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), a 100-year-old service organization.

The contract allows HHS to issue task orders to the agency for aid in connection with a specific disaster. The agreement became effective on July 20, a Monday CCUSA press release says.

Under the contract, the charity will organize national, regional and local teams and work in partnership with them to ensure disaster case management preparedness and delivery.

Though the contract covers all types of disasters, Catholic Charities noted that the agreement comes in time for the 2009 hurricane season. The federal government’s first task order concerned case management work related to the aftermath of Hurricanes Gustave and Ike.

Fr. Larry Snyder, CCUSA President and CEO, commented on the contract in a statement.

“We all hope and pray for zero disasters, but reality forces us to be prepared,” he said.

“Our people, our agencies, and our partners have exceptional first-hand experience -- not only from Katrina, Gustav and Ike -- but from our every day work in serving those most devastated and most in need across the country. People know they can turn to Catholic Charities to get the job done. We thank the Department of Health and Human Services for their confidence in us.”

Fr. Snyder characterized the contract as “a very strong endorsement of who we are and what we do, and powerful recognition of the donors who support us and who we will now need to count on more than ever.”

He explained that the contract is specifically for disaster case management operations for individual and family needs “long after the initial impact.”

“It does not cover disaster response direct assistance, so we must continue to maintain and grow our donations to support that critical front."

CCUSA, which is among the top five largest non-profit charities in the country, says it will reach out to its counterparts such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others to establish any mutual engagement opportunities.

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Facebook and MySpace have ‘dehumanizing’ effects, Archbishop Nichols warns

London, England, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols has warned about the “dehumanizing” effects of modern communication, saying e-mails, text messages and social network sites alone cannot build “a rounded community.”

Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he said an “excessive” or “almost exclusive” use of text and e-mails helps cause society to lose some of the ability to build the interpersonal communication necessary for living together and building a community.

"We're losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person's mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point,” remarked Archbishop Nichols, the Catholic Primate of England and Wales.

"Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together."

"Facebook and MySpace might contribute towards communities, but I'm wary about it. It's not rounded communication so it won't build a rounded community," he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Community, defined as “a genuine growing together” and a “mutual sharing” in matters of some significance “needs more than Facebook," the archbishop commented.

The “trauma of transient relationships” is a key factor in some young people’s suicides, he argued. His words come just days after British high school student Megan Gillan killed herself after fellow students posted spiteful online messages about her appearance and clothing.

"They throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they're desolate."

"It's an all or nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast.

"But friendship is not a commodity, friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it's right."

Archbishop Nichols also voiced concerns about the loss of loyalty and the rise of individualism in British society. These forces threatened to undermine communities, he told the Daily Telegraph.

Linking individualism to efforts to legalize assisted suicide, he warned that the practice “seriously weakens the fabric of mutual responsibility within society” and encourages the marginalization of those who need care.

In his interview Archbishop Nichols also called on the government to support the traditional family by offering tax breaks to married couples and by requiring a “cooling-off” period before a divorce.

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Cardinal Bagnasco encourages conscientious objection to RU-486

Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, encouraged doctors who defend life and oppose abortion to exercise their right to conscientious objection in response to the decision by health care officials to allow the sale of the abortion drug RU-486.

In an interview with the Italian daily Avvenire, Cardinal Bagnasco warned the decision encourages Italians to view “abortion as a contraceptive, something that law 194 absolutely forbids,” and he expressed his “sadness, bitterness and care” over the position of health care officials, which he called a “crack in our society.”

Where there is no respect for human life, the cardinal went on, “from conception in its fragility and later during its course, society is less human. That the right of the strongest thus prevails is bitter.”  Behind this society, he added, “is an individualistic culture, hidden under respect for the freedom of women,” who “in reality experience a tragedy, live in suffering and worry; when a truly human culture ought to take care of them.”

“A courageous, clear voice arguing at all levels” needs to be raised, the cardinal stated, saying that Catholics must urgently work to defend the lives of the unborn and of women, especially in the area of politics and law.

In response to the legalization of RU-486, Cardinal Bagnasco also encouraged “the spread of conscientious objection based on profound convictions” as a witness to public opinion.

According to recently released data, 70.5% of Italian doctors exercise their right to conscientiously object to abortion.  This fact, according to the cardinal, “should make us reflect about the sensitivity that is still strongly rooted in the hearts of Italians.”

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Vatican denies reports of new guidelines on illegitimate children of priests

Vatican City, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, issued a statement today strongly denying reports in the Italian media that the Vatican is drafting new guidelines regarding the illegitimate children of priests.
The Italian daily “La Stampa” published a report last weekend claiming the Congregation for the Clergy is studying measures to address the cases of illegitimate children fathered by priests.  According the report, “a sort of civil contract” was being considered that would allow children to carry the priest’s last name and have inheritance rights.
Father Lombardi categorically denied that any such policy is being considered by the Vatican and said the report in La Stampa “has no foundation.”

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Phoenix bishop encourages Knights to overcome their fears

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - Nearly 2,500 Knights and their families gathered in Phoenix’s JW Marriot Desert Ridge Resort to celebrate their annual convention’s opening Mass this morning, on the Feast of St. John Vianney.  In his homily, principal celebrant Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted called on the Knights not to fear the “demands of morality” as many of their peers do.

Concelebrated by seven cardinals, 80 bishops and 80 priests, the Mass opened the 127th Annual Convention of the Knights of Columbus.  The theme of this year’s convention, “We stand with Peter in solidarity with our bishops and priests,” takes place during the “Year for Priests,” proclaimed by Pope Benedict.

Several relics of the patron of priests, St. John Vianney, were brought to the altar during the opening procession. The saint’s feast day is celebrated today.

During his homily, Bishop Olmsted reflected on Matthew’s Gospel, which recalled Christ walking on water.  “In the Gospel passage for this Mass, a battle rages between fear and faith. The disciples in the boat, tossed about in a stormy sea, are frightened by the pounding of the waves and the violence of the wind. When Jesus comes to them, walking on the sea, they are even terrified of Him; they cry out in fear, ‘It is a ghost!’ At once Jesus speaks to them, ‘Take courage, It is I; do not be afraid’.”

Though the battle with fear is “very real,” Jesus wants us to overcome all our fear, a message that St. John Vianney echoed, the bishop reminded the Knights.

During the life of Father John Vianney, Bishop Olmsted explained, Catholics living in Ars “were ignorant of their faith and indifferent in their practice. Addictions were widespread. Marriage and the family were breaking down. Hope was running low. What they needed was a holy priest, a messenger of Christ who would help them overcome their slavish fears, and surrender with gratitude to the love of God. But they were afraid of the moral demands that faith would make upon them. And so, upon his arrival as the new parish priest in Ars, Fr. Vianney was not made welcome,” he recounted.

Turning to modern times, Bishop Olmsted said, “this fear of moral demands is the greatest fear in society today, a fear that keeps people from surrendering in faith to the Lord.” 

“When our contemporaries take up the search for something more, false notions about ethical demands may frighten them away.”  This was the case for Christian author C.S. Lewis, the bishop explained.  When he converted to Christianity, “he was convinced that he would never be happy again. He said that he knew it was right for him to believe in God, that it was the ethical thing to do, that it was the thing his intellectual searching and his informed conscience were requiring him to do; it was a matter of integrity. But he never guessed that it could lead to happiness. That was God’s surprise!”

The bishop encouraged the Knights saying, “we followers of Christ need not be afraid because, as the Angel tells Mary, ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ The demands of God are not burdensome, when supported by the rich mercy of God. The law of the Lord leads us away from sin and the disorientation that it always sows; and it lead us to truth and goodness and beauty. It leads us toward full maturity in Christ.”

Reflecting on today's Gospel reading, Bishop Olmsted explained that Peter overcame his fears when he climbed out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus.  “But then, Peter’s faith wavered as he noticed the strength of the wind. He began to pay more attention to the threat of the storm than to the One who controls all storms and indeed all of creation. His fear overshadowed his faith and Peter began to sink.”

“However, even as he was sinking, Peter found enough faith to cry out, ‘Lord, save me;’ Jesus at once stretched out His hand, caught Peter, and began to walk with him back to the boat. Many years later, perhaps recalling this incident, Peter wrote in his first Epistle, “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the suffering of Christ’.”

“Are not these words timely for us today, in AD 2009 as we begin this Supreme Convention?” the bishop asked.  “Whatever ‘trial by fire’ the Lord may give us to endure, whatever fears we may have to face, let us trust the words of our Redeemer, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’”

Further information about this week’s conference can be found at

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Miraculous image experts to speak at Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus is preparing to host a Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe which not only will feature top experts on the miraculous image, but will also focus on its spiritual meaning for the world today.

The first International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe will be held August 6 – 8 in Phoenix, Arizona and will include presentations by experts on Our Lady from the U.S. and Latin America.

In 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Indian from Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City.  She identified herself as the Mother of the True God and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a poor quality cactus-cloth.  Although the tilma should have deteriorated within 20 years, it still shows no sign of decay over 470 years later.

The congress is co-sponsored by the Diocese of Phoenix and the Instituto Superior de Estudios Guadalupanos, and will be followed by the family-friendly Guadalupe Festival on August 8.

Featured lecturers will include Dr. José Aste Tonsmann from Peru, who is known for doing extensive research on the reflections visible in the image’s eyes.  Also speaking will be Rev. Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, who oversaw the cause for canonization of St. Juan Diego and Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

In addition to addressing the scientific aspects of the image, the congress will also discuss the spiritual meaning of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s message of love and compassion and its relevance today.

“The centrality of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Americas as ‘the Christian Hemisphere’ is clearly evident throughout North and South America,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in a press release. “Her message is one that has as much importance and meaning today as it did nearly 500 years ago.”

The only relic of St. Juan Diego’s tilma in the U.S. will be at the congress as well as an art exhibit featuring Guadalupe-related art works.  On Friday, a night screening of the 2006 movie “Guadalupe,” will be presented by its producer, Pablo José Barroso.

More information about the congress can be found at

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Sanctification is center of Year of Priests, says Cardinal Hummes in Ars

Ars, France, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes celebrated Mass in Ars, France today to mark the feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney. In his homily, he said that by celebrating the Year for Priests on the 150th anniversary of the saint’s death, Pope Benedict XVI hopes the spirit that pervades this jubilee year will be one of sanctification.
At the Shrine dedicated to the Cure d’Ars, with Bishop Guy Marie Bagnard and numerous priests concelebrating, Cardinal Hummes underscored that the Church “desires to say to priests that she thanks God for them, she admires them and loves them, she wants to sustain them with her prayers, she accompanies them in their journey of fidelity, she recognizes them, she wants to concretely help them and collaborate with them in their pastoral work.”
After noting that the priests of the world have a date with the Holy Father June 9-10, 2010 at the International Congress in Rome, Cardinal Hummes underscored the example of the Cure d’Ars, whose life was “rich with teachings.”

“He was a model priest because of his life of faith and constant prayer, because of his profound and solid spirituality, his penitence, his humility and poverty, his manner of placing the celebration of the Mass at the center of parish life, his untiring and marvelous ministry of the sacrament of Confession, his ministry of the Word of God for preaching and catechesis, his love for the poor, his pastoral charity which led him to an encounter with each parishioner to lead him or her towards conversion and salvation.”
St. Jean Marie Vianney, the cardinal added, “did not want to lose anybody and did not want to rest without first seeing everyone in church, assiduously and frequently receiving the sacraments.”
“Thus we priests,” he continued, “for the mere sake of our ordination, are all consecrated to participating in the universal mission of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  It is our priestly and missionary essence.  With the task of adapting ourselves to the specific needs of our age, we are ‘sent’ to proclaim the Good News to all men, in particular, as did the Cure d’Ars, to the baptized that have strayed from the light of the faith, beginning with those who are poorest.”
After pointing out that priests cannot limit themselves to their parish but must go out in search of the faithful, Cardinal Hummes underscored the importance of assisting them in the sacrament of Confession because “still today, certainly, our contemporaries seek forgiveness, interior peace, reconciliation with God and neighbor, but frequently they do not find the person to show them the way or who understands them in their confusion. This is truly an essential ministry of every priest,” he said.
At the conclusion of his homily, Cardinal Hummes invited those present “to make of their families true domestic churches, ardent lights of faith and love, where they pray together. Do not be afraid if the Lord chooses one of your sons to be a priest. Strive instead to pray to the Lord for the grace of a priestly vocation in your family.”

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Benedict XVI, Obama send greetings to K of C

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - The greetings of several heads of state were read at this afternoon’s opening meeting at the Knights of Columbus convention in Phoenix, including words of appreciation and encouragement from Pope Benedict and President Barack Obama.

In a letter written on behalf of Pope Benedict by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Pontiff sent his “warm personal greetings to all in attendance,” as well as “his prayerful good wishes for the occasion.”

In the message, Bertone wrote that the Church is called to work “to renew and transform society by defending those unchanging moral truths inscribed on our hearts by the Creator, discernible to right reason and essential to the building of a just, free and humane society.”

Noting the growing “ethical confusion” in the world, the Pope's message highlighted how the Church’s witness to these truths is even more necessary.  “For this reason the Holy Father encourages the praiseworthy efforts of the Knights to promote knowledge of the rich body of the Church’s social teaching, and, in union with the Bishops…to let that teaching shape and direct their personal lives, their institutional decisions and their engagement in the life of society at every level. 

He likewise trusts that, as a respected and articulate voice of the Catholic faithful, the Knights of Columbus will continue to defend that teaching through reasoned argument and responsible participation in civic and political life.”

The Holy Father then expressed his gratefulness to the Knights for their commitment “to promoting priestly and religious vocations worldwide.”

Repeating a charge he gave to the U.S. bishops during his 2008 visit, the Holy Father  encouraged the Knights to make an effort to assist the youth “to pray and pray well,” because “young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.”

President Obama also sent his “best wishes” to the Knights.  “For over a century, the Knights of Columbus have worked to care not only for one another, but also for countless people in need.  Your dedicated service reminds us that we all have a role to play in building a better future for each other,” Obama said.

His message continued, “Now is the time to recommit ourselves to service, renew America’s promise, and work together as one people and one Nation. As you gather in Phoenix to pray, celebrate the past year’s accomplishments, and plan for the year ahead, I wish you all the best.”

Greetings from the heads of state of Canada, Mexico, Poland and the Philippines were also read.

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Bridgeport Diocese rejects reports of nunnery threat as 'untrue'

Bridgeport, Conn., Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - Reports that an accountant and a priest at a Catholic parish in Connecticut were mistreated and threatened by the Diocese of Bridgeport are being rejected by the diocese as “inaccurate” and “untrue.”

Headlines about a lawsuit related to the fallout from a financial scandal in the diocese read, “Conn. priest: Bishop wanted to send me to the nuns” and “Whistleblower priest claims bishop threatened him.” The priest in question, Fr. Michael Madden, was serving alongside Fr. Jude Fay, who was later found guilty of embezzling $1 million from the parish.

When contacted by CNA, the diocese said that the “statements by Father Madden regarding his conversation with Bishop William Lori are untrue.”

The media coverage is the result of a lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Bridgeport by the bookkeeper of St. John's Catholic Parish in Darien, Conn.

Although she was not involved in the embezzlement scandal, Bethany D'Erario, the bookkeeper for the parish, is alleging that she was harassed and threatened for exposing the embezzlement.

Mark Sherman, an attorney for D’Erario, said he plans to call Bishop Lori as a witness. He said the Church had treated Fr. Fay better than it treated D’Erario and Madden.

"The only motive Beth and Mike Madden had in blowing the whistle was to stop Father Fay's embezzlement," Sherman said. "As a thank you gift, the church and diocese cut her health benefits, slandered her name and did everything they could to push her out the door."

The Diocese of Bridgeport said in a Tuesday afternoon statement that the comments by Sherman are an attempt to “use inflammatory rhetoric as a substitute for evidence.”

Saying that Ms. D'Erario's claims have “no legal relevance,” the diocese stated that, “The Church did not cut Ms. D'Erario's health benefits, slander her name, or push her out. She maintained the same job title, duties, salary and benefits at all times in 2006. She made the decision to resign on her own, and she acknowledged as much in her resignation letter which she published in the Church Bulletin.”

“At no time did anyone from the Church or the Diocese request or suggest her resignation.”

Instead, the 19-month lag time between when she resigned and when she filed a lawsuit suggests that “her motivation was financial rather than any real claim of wrongdoing or injustice,” the diocese added.

The facet of the D'Erario lawsuit that gained the most attention, however, was the claim by Michael Madden—now a former priest of the diocese—that Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport threatened to send him to a convent when he and D'Erario hired a private investigator to look into the former Fr. Fay's actions.

Madden was asked at a June deposition if church officials told him they were going send him to a “nunnery.”

"Nunnery is probably not the word, but, yes, the bishop was going to pull me out of the parish that day just as I thought and send me to live with nuns," Madden said, according to the deposition, which the Associated Press says was filed Monday in Waterbury Superior Court.

Asked if that was a punishment, Madden said, "It certainly was."

However, the diocese stated on Tuesday that “statements by Father Madden regarding his conversation with Bishop William Lori are untrue. Bishop Lori did not threaten to send Father Madden to a 'nunnery.'"

As for D'Erario, the diocese pointed out that “she also admits that she only hired the private investigator because she was concerned that as the Church's bookkeeper, she might be blamed for some of the financial improprieties.”

“It was the Diocese, not Father Madden or Ms. D'Erario, that reported Father Fay's misconduct to the United States Attorney's Office. The Diocese made that report before Father Madden and Ms. D'Erario's private investigator ever approached the Darien police,” the statement provided to CNA said.

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Caritas in Veritate is light 'amidst dark clouds,' says French Minister of Labor

Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2009 (CNA) - France’s Minister of Labor, Xavier Darcos, said the new social encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate,” has “come at an opportune moment, like a ray of light amidst the dark clouds” and makes the Church’s social teaching shine as a clear response to “ the cynical laws of unregulated economic advantage-taking and interdependence.”

In an article published by L’Osservatore Romano, Darcos said the new encyclical by the Pope “proclaims that other ways are possible and necessary. With the Christian message as its source, it points to hope and to innovative solutions.”

Benedict XVI celebrates charity as the “master way of the social doctrine of the Church,” and he is guided by Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” and Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio,” Darcos continued. “The Pope brings back the foundation of Christianity: love, sharing, and justice, in order to discover the remedy to the selfish tactics of today.  He also notes that the Gospel opens a path towards a society based on equality and freedom,” the French minister said.

Noting that the Pope’s analysis is precise and documented, Darcos underscored that in response to the grave economic crisis facing the world, the Church, in the voice of the Holy Father, “proposes another choice: a ‘comprehensive development’ that assures a shared humanistic emancipation.” Because growth is a benefit, Darcos added, globalization is not bad in and of itself, but it must be “subordinated to an ethic.”

He went on to stress that the Pope is asking the world to explore “the path of gift, gratuity and sharing. He condemns the emptiness of blind relativism which deprives men of the sense of their collectivity.”

The Pope “calls for a new alliance between faith and reason, between divine light and human intelligence,” Darcos continued. The crisis should force us to reconsider our ways because while the world’s riches are growing, the disparities continue to increase,” he said.

People need to understand they are part of one human family,” he continued, “which demands that there be a return to values: gift, the rejection of the market as a method of domination, the abandonment of hedonistic consumerism, redistribution and cooperation.”

The French Minister of Labor said it was “rare” for a Pope to have such a deep grasp of reality in analyzing societal ills and proposing the best anti-dotes. “May his message be understood!”

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