Vatican City, Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) -
The Catholic Church is set to welcome four new blesseds from various parts of Europe and one saintly woman from Israel during October and November.
The announcement that Pope Benedict XVI has approved the beatification of the three men and two women was made today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
The Servants of God who will be declared Blessed by the Church are:
Servant of God Eustachio Kugler (ne Joseph), German professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God: at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 4 in the cathedral of Regensburg, Germany.
Servant of God Ciriaco Maria Sancha y Hervas, Spanish cardinal and archbishop, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 18 in the cathedral of Toledo, Spain.
Servant of God Carlo Gnocchi, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the "Pro Juventute" Foundation: at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 25 in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy.
Servant of God Zoltan Lajos Meszlenyi, Hungarian bishop and martyr: at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 in the cathedral of Esztergom, Hungary.
Servant of God Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas (nee Soultaneh Maria), co- foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem: at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday, November 22, Solemnity of Christ the King, in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel.
Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) - The Venezuelan newspaper Diario de Caracas has published emails that it claims the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, wrote against the new education law. Cardinal Urosa has responded by categorically denying authorship of the emails, and saying that they were sent from a fake address in order “to discredit me before the Venezuelan people.”
The emails sent using the cardinal’s name included demeaning comments about lower-income sectors of society and claimed that the Venezuelan prelate said, “The children of wealthy families are called to go to college” in order to occupy important positions in the country.
In response, Cardinal Urosa sent a letter to the leaders of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela—to which President Hugo Chavez belongs—saying he had been made aware of the false emails being sent under his name in which he supposedly expressed “snobbish and elitist” ideas. “The purpose of this disgrace is clear: to discredit me before the Venezuelan people.”
“I absolutely reject the claims of my authorship and of the elitist and anti-democratic ideas that are maliciously attributed to me. I also reject the attack against me by the person who created this false and slanderous email,” the cardinal said.
He went on to “absolutely deny creating this email about certain aspects of the recently promulgated law on education. It contains phrases I never use and ideas that go against my values and sentiments of service and affection for all Venezuelans, no matter what their social class.”
“Before publishing the email the media could have consulted with me to verify that it was authentic,” he reprimanded.
Manila, Philippines, Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) - Father Cecilio Lucero, 48, was killed Sunday during an ambush by 30 men wearing ski masks. The priest was making his way to the city of Catarman in the northern region of the Philippines.
Fr. Lucero's was accompanied by Isidro Miras and police officer Eugene Bation at the time of the attack. Miras was critically wounded in the attack, while Bation was able to return fire, causing the assailants to flee.
Bishop Emmanuel Trance of Catarman urged officials to work to stop attacks on priests and Christian believers.
He said Father Lucero had received a series of threats because of his work in defense of human rights. The priest had publicly denounced the practice of vigilante executions that anonymous armed groups have been carrying out in the country. He was aware of the threats against him and for this reason he asked Eugene Bation, who is a police officer, to accompany him on his travels.
Police reports indicated that Father Lucero died of a gunshot wound to the head. “If it is possible to kill a priest in this way, this murder will cause terror among citizens,” Bishop Trance warned.
Santiago, Chile, Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel of Santiago, Chile reminded Catholics yesterday that they are members of civil society and have the right to speak their minds about electoral issues. The bishop also critiqued an editorial that derided the bishops’ call for an austere campaign.
In a letter to the editor of El Mercurio, Bishop Contreras said that a September 3rd editorial which criticized the Church’s call for an austere campaign amidst the current economic crisis was incorrect.
The editorial had stated that the executive committee of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference claimed “Chileans hope for a campaign season without excessive spending.” Such a statement “cannot be found” in their declaration," he said.
Bishop Contreras said the bishops understand that in order to get their messages out, candidates need to spend money, “but it should not therefore be excessive and disproportionate.” “To say this is not to imply that the Church ‘unrealistically’ suggests this can be done without financial resources, marketing campaigns, attendance at events across the country or ads in the media,” he pointed out, countering the spin of the editorial.
What the bishops call for is “a special gesture of solidarity” towards the poor by carrying out “austere and simple” campaigns, the bishop explained. To attribute to the Church any intention other than the one it has clearly expressed “could be seen as another attempt to regulate the private and cultural spheres,” he added.
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon, Mexico has called on health department officials to review the contents of a booklet on sexual health that was distributed to children and teens. The archbishop asked for a recall of the booklets, saying they encourage out-of-control sexuality through the use of condoms and the morning-after pill.
Speaking to reporters, the archbishop said the booklet promotes hedonism among young people and that parent associations have joined the bishops in expressing their concern.
Archbishop Martin Rabago warned that the contents of the booklet affect all families regardless of their beliefs and that for this reason, federal and state officials need to be more sensitive when handling this issue.
He said the booklets should be reviewed and revised, citing numerous problematic ideas and actions promoted in the booklet. The decision to promote abortifacient contraceptives “as a form a sexual education is completely inappropriate,” he stated. “We have pointed out many times now that abortion is in reality murder. It is elegantly called ‘termination of pregnancy’ but it is (murder),” the archbishop maintained.
Regarding AIDS, Archbishop Martin Rabago noted that in the countries of Africa, the policy of distributing condoms has been changed to promoting abstinence and fidelity, with much better results.
He said there needs to be proof that condoms have made the number of teen pregnancies drop, “and there is no proof.” “Engaging in sexual activity at too early of an age psychologically distorts the person and prevents him or her from living fidelity in marriage,” he said. Education in chastity is the more difficult path but it yields greater results, the archbishop said.
Hagatna, Guam, Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) - Community leaders and local Catholic figures in Guam on Monday spoke at a symposium on the implications of allowing same-sex “marriage” as the U.S. territory’s legislature considers a bill which would legally recognize same-sex unions.
The symposium, held at the Archdiocese of Agana’s Chapel of St. Therese, featured eight speakers who discussed the moral, political, social, legal and medical implications of same-sex “marriage.”
According to Pacifica Daily News, youth parishioner John Calvo, Jr. said the symposium was intended to educate the Guam community about the importance of the sacrament of marriage.
"It seems to be that society in general has lost its moral compass and our moral values seem to be determined by what is becoming common practice in society rather than what is common good,” he commented.
Calvo explained that issues regarding same-sex unions are of concern not only to Catholics but to society as a whole. Some of the speakers at the symposium highlighted the negative consequences of same-sex unions, referring both to natural law and legal precedent.
Tim Rohr, owner of John Paul the Great Bookstore, said that supporters of same-sex unions have been characterizing the proposal as a civil rights issue and have stayed away from the word “marriage” in their support for Bill 185, the same-sex union legislation.
Calvo told the Pacifica Daily News he didn’t believe it mattered whether the term used was union or marriage.
“It’s the same wolf in different sheepskin,” he said.
Rev. Roy Burk, a Protestant pastor and the president of the Guam Ministerial Association agreed with Calvo, writing in a letter to the Guam Legislature on July 28. Burk said that he opposes Bill 185 because it claims that the issue is about civil rights, when it is clearly about “demands for lifestyle preferences and should be separated from any notion of a civil right.”
“As a Guam resident of African-American descent I am sickened by such comparisons,” Rev. Burk wrote.
He also pointed the Guam lawmakers to a quote from the former Ambassador to the Holy See Dr. Mary Ann Glendon, who warned that religious freedom is also threatened by the passage of the bill into law.
According to Burk's letter, Glendon said, 'Religious freedom, too is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance, and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before.'
Detroit, Mich., Sep 8, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Detroit, faced with a critical cash-flow problem costing $1.2 million per month, has announced a major financial restructuring of its programs and properties. The changes will cut almost 80 positions.
“The financial realities of our current circumstances are sobering; the resulting changes for the administrative structure of the archdiocese are significant,” Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron said in a statement from the archdiocese.
Speaking at a September 3 presentation of the restructuring plans, the archbishop announced his acceptance of the recommendations of a six-month-long study. In spring of 2009 he had commissioned two separate committees comprised of lay people and clergy to assess the financial well-being of the archdiocese.
“I believe the committee members have crafted a response that is true to and advances the mission I asked them to consider in their deliberations – To share Christ in and through the Church,” Archbishop Vigneron said.
The study recommended the reduction of positions from 264 to 187 this fall, the sale of buildings and relocation of administrative support offices, and a shift to regional delivery of programs, services and ministries to the parishes.
The recommendations aim to make the archdiocese “cash neutral.” In fiscal year 2008-2009, the archdiocese lost $14.5 million in cash. Presently it loses $1.2 million in cash per month, a rate of about $42,000 a day. Without intervention, the archdiocese says, the trends will worsen and cash will be exhausted by 2011.
New job descriptions will be created for the 187 remaining positions in the archdiocese. All current on-site staff who indicated an interest will be considered for the new positions, with final selections set to be completed by mid-November. The archdiocese said it would provide employee assistance, job placement workshops and retirement incentives for those eligible.
Archbishop Vigneron said staff members of the Archdiocese’s Central Services have been a “dedicated, devoted work force” supporting the Church.
“They have my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation,” he said.
Under the plan, the six counties of the archdiocese will be reorganized into four regions, each overseen by an auxiliary bishop and supported by central staff in the areas of Catholic schools; evangelization; youth, young adult and campus ministry; and vocations.
The recommendations call for the sale of the Gabriel Richard Building in downtown Detroit and the relocation of staff to a smaller, more cost-efficient property within the city, possibly the campus of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. The archdiocesan Print Shop building may also be sold and its operations also moved to the seminary.
The archdiocese has created a webpage for information on the restructuring at http://www.aodonline.org/restructure.