Montevideo, Uruguay, Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - Lawmakers in Uruguay passed a measure last week that would allow homosexual couples to adopt children, despite the strong opposition from the Catholic Church, voiced recently by Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno of Montevideo and other community leaders.
The measure passed by a vote of 53-40 and was a modified version of the bill approved by the Uruguayan Senate on July 15. Now it must be sent back to the Senate for debate.
In response to the bill’s passage, which comes two years after the country legalized gay unions, the spokesman for the group National Coordinator for Life, Nestor Martinez, called it a “step backwards and an attack on the rights of children” and said it would lay the groundwork for a “negative future for the Uruguayan society.”
Earlier this month, Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno warned in a strongly-worded statement that the measure backed by a left-wing coalition would have grave consequences for society, especially for children.
“The issue of the adoption of children by homosexual couples is not a question of religion, philosophy or sociology. It is essentially a question of respect for human nature itself,” the archbishop said in a statement. “To accept the adoption of children by homosexual couples is to go against human nature itself, and consequently, it is to go against the fundamental rights of the human being as a person,” he warned.
While he expressed the “utmost respect” for homosexuals as persons, Archbishop Cotugno said, “Those who freely chose a life of homosexual relations have assumed a life style that is unconnected to procreation and to the ability to be parents. If you reject the cause you cannot lay claim its natural effect.”
“Nevertheless,” he added, “to accept adoption by homosexual couples would be to grant those who opted for the life style of not being parents the right to be such, thus prioritizing their interests over those of the child. And this is inadmissible from every point of view.”
Rome, Italy, Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - The Italian Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli wrote this past Saturday on his blog that the recent clarifications by high-ranking Vatican officials do not refute what he stated in a column for the Italian daily Il Giornale on August 22. Tornielli had reported that Pope Benedict XVI is considering various measures to move forward with a liturgical “reform of the reform.”
Both in his column and on his usually well-sourced blog, Tornielli announced on August 22 that the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, led by Cardinal Antonio Canizares, had put forth a series of liturgical reforms—including greater use of Latin in the Mass, the possibility of celebrating the Mass ad orientum at least during the consecration, and a greater emphasis on Communion on the tongue—that were being studied by the Holy Father.
In an apparent response to the report by Tornielli, the vice director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Ciro Benedettini, said on August 24, “No institutional proposals currently exist that refer to a modification of the liturgical books.” Additionally, last Friday, in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone called the reports “imaginary.”
According to Tornielli, the denial by Father Benedettini and the comments by Cardinal Bertone were provoked not by his article but “rather, by the manner in which the story was picked up by various blogs, which claimed the ‘reform of the reform’ and the changes to the Mass in a more traditional sense were imminent.”
He said on Saturday that his column referred to “the beginning of work” and not to “imminent reforms or documents already prepared,” adding that both the results of the meeting of the Congregation led by Cardinal Canizares as well as their presentation to the Pope for his consideration are real facts.
“All of this is an attempt to tell people not to believe what I wrote, saying there is nothing happening, that the Pope and the Congregation for Divine Worship are not considering anything, that the ‘reform of the reform’ and the recovery of a greater sense of the sacred in the Liturgy is a false story reported by me,” Tornielli said.
He concluded his blog saying, “Ever since I become a Vatican analyst I have made many mistakes and I will continue to make them, but the article in question, believe me, is not among them.”
Scranton, Pa., Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - At a press conference in Scranton this morning, Bishop Joseph Martino announced that he and auxiliary bishop John Dougherty are stepping down from their posts. Bishop Martino explained that he is resigning because of "crippling physical fatigue," while Bishop Dougherty is retiring upon having reached the age limit.
Last week, CNA reported that Bishop Martino, 63, would be resigning from his post in Scranton. The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Martino in accordance with canon 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law which says: a diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.”
Speaking at a press conference in downtown Scranton on Monday morning, Bishop Martino announced that for some time, “there has not been a clear consensus among the clergy and people of the Diocese of Scranton regarding my pastoral initiatives or my way of governance. This development, he continued, “has caused him great sorrow, resulting in bouts of insomnia and at times a crippling physical fatigue.”
“The Diocese of Scranton needs to continue to respond to the call of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II, and of his successor Pope Benedict XVI, to engage in the New Evangelization,” he said. “To do so however, the Diocese of Scranton requires a bishop who is at least physically vigorous. I am not that bishop.”
He went on, “therefore, I have asked our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to accept my resignation as Bishop of Scranton.”
He noted that though he has no immediate plans, he plans to remain in Scranton.
Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Martino was ordained a priest in 1970 and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia in 1996 before becoming Bishop of Scranton in 2003.
The Diocese of Scranton will not only lose Martino, but also one of its auxiliary bishops, Most Rev. John M. Dougherty, whose resignation was also accepted by the Vatican today. Dougherty, 77, submitted his resignation when he reached the age of 75.
Dougherty was born in Scranton in 1932. The Scranton auxiliary studied at the University of Notre Dame and was ordained a priest in 1957. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton in 1995.
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia will oversee the Diocese of Scranton as its apostolic administrator until a replacement is named by the Holy Father.
When he was asked how quickly he would like to see the Pope name a replacement, Cardinal Rigali said he hoped it would be within six months, stressing that this was his hope, not an expectation.
Washington D.C., Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - In a statement released last Friday, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) clarified that it has not thrown its institutional support behind the current health care bill, while also reiterating its commitment to protect life from conception to natural death.
The Catholic Health Association “has long been committed to a goal of health coverage for all people in the United States. CHA has not, however, endorsed any of the bills currently under consideration,” the statement said.
Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer of CHA, said that “our message has always been clear: health care must respect and protect human dignity from conception to natural death. In that spirit, coverage for everyone is a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.”
“To date, CHA has not endorsed any health care reform bill, but our message to lawmakers is unchanged: Health reform should not result in an expansion of abortion, and it must maintain conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to participate in abortions or other morally objectionable procedures,” Sr. Keehan added.
The CHA statement also said that the association is “working closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to bring about health reform that respects the life and dignity of every person, from conception to natural death. This means care that respects the unborn, the patient with multiple sclerosis, the person living with cancer, the young mother, the addicted, the mentally ill, the frail elderly, the dying patient.”
Sr. Keehan also explained that CHA’s participation in an agreement with the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, and the White House “did not include any commitments to endorse specific legislation but marked major progress in advancing reform and working together to finance health care in this country.”
“As the reform conversation reaches a pivotal point, our message stays the same: it's time to create the health care system the American people deserve and can be proud of,” CHA’s president said.
Bogotá, Colombia, Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota, said any referendum on whether to allow the county’s president Alvaro Uribe to run for a third term must be transparent and be clearly spelled out.
The referendum “must be done in accord with the law,” he said. “Colombians are asking that this be very clear…Colombians accept what the law tells them,” the bishop told reporters.
Bishop Cordoba also stated that, “If there is no transparency, there is no referendum.”
The Colombian Constitution currently restricts presidents to two consecutive terms.
Philadelphia, Pa., Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - The father of the late Terri Schindler Schiavo, Robert S. Schindler, Sr., died of heart failure on Saturday at the age of 71. He had struggled to save the life of his brain-damaged daughter in 2005, when Terri’s husband successfully sought to remove her feeding tube, causing her death.
In the wake of Terri's death, Robert, with his wife Mary, daughter Suzanne Vitadamo, and son Bobby Schindler, founded the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation in St. Petersburg, Florida. The foundation is dedicated to support other families who must fight for the rights of their disabled or otherwise vulnerable loved ones.
His son issued a statement at his father’s death saying his was “heartbroken” over the loss of his father, but added “I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri.”
“My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. He taught all three of his children to respect and value life and to love our fellow man.
“Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri’s life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit. Yet it was his unfathomable strength that allowed him to shoulder up his own heartache and lead us through our darkest hour.”
“What greater legacy could a man leave behind?” the younger Schindler added.
Fr. Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life, said Schindler remains “an inspiration.”
“In spite of enduring the heartbreaking, court ordered killing of his daughter, Terry Schiavo, Bob never stopped fighting for the rights of others who were disabled or medically vulnerable. His quiet strength in the face of persecution and his compassion for those who were too weak to defend themselves will forever serve as examples of how we should show Christ's love.”
Wanda Franz, president o f National Right to Life, said his death was a “profound loss” for the pro-life movement.
“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Mary and their children, Bobby and Suzanne.”
A public visitation for Schindler will be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Southampton, Pennsylvania on September 4 at 10 a.m. A funeral Mass will be held at noon, followed by a private burial service at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Philadelphia.
Paris, France, Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - French Catholic festival intended to announce the Gospel to tourists concluded on Sunday, with three hundred young adult Catholics taking part in the event. One French bishop said the event was a “grace” of World Youth Day.
The Anuncio Festival organized concerts, debates, exhibitions and prayer vigils in the best-known tourist resorts including those at Saint-Tropez, Saint-Raphaël, Cannes, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille and Paris.
Last year the festival was held at four locations and had 250 attendees, SIR reports.
Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon Dominique Rey had given his official approval to the event in the city Sainte-Baume, where Provencal tradition holds that Mary Magdalene once lived.
The bishop is a member of the Emmanuel Community, one of the religious communities that organized the event.
Other prelates supporting the event included Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, and Auxiliary Bishop of Paris Jean-Yves Nahmias.
The festival was also attended by the Missionaries of Mercy, the Dominicans of Sainte-Baume, the Congregation of the Brothers of the Holy Spirit, the community of Saint Martin, the Missionary Fraternity, the community of Shalom, Cançao Nova, the Brothers of Saint John, and the Benedictine nuns of Montmartre.
According to SIR, the festival’s joint prayer closing event took place on the Parisian hill of Montmartre, where a tent city had been erected around the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Bishop Rey described the festival’s young people as a “wonderful sign” and said they must be encouraged.
“To show one’s faith, one has to experience it,” he added, calling the festival “an emanation and a grace of the World Youth Days.”
Rimini, Italy, Aug 31, 2009 (CNA) - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who converted to the Catholic faith a few years ago, addressed participants at the Rimini Meeting in Italy, saying, “The voice of the Church should be heard” and “it should speak confidently, clearly and openly.”
During his speech the former Prime Minister underscored, “Faith and reason are in alliance, not opposition,” and that therefore “the Church can be the insistent spiritual voice that makes globalization our servant not our master.”
After praising the Church’s untiring social work, Blair went on to say, “There is not just room, but a growing space today for organizations of civic society to step forward and do things that neither market nor state can do.”
Blair said his conversion to the Catholic faith was due in part to his wife Cherie. “I began to go to Mass and we went together. We could have gone to the Anglican or Catholic church – guess who won?” he joked.
“As time went on, I had been going to Mass for a long time ... it's difficult to find the right words. I felt this was right for me. There was something, not just about the doctrine of the Church, but of the universal nature of the Catholic Church,” Tony Blair said.
Despite these words, Blair and his wife maintain positions on contraception and gay unions that are contrary to the Church’s teachings.