Asunción, Paraguay, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - The outgoing Papal Nuncio to Paraguay, Archbishop Orlando Antonini, said last week that he hopes Paraguayans will acknowledge the suffering the Church endured over the decision by now President Fernando Lugo to abandon his vocation and enter politics.
“I hope Paraguayans acknowledge this suffering of the Church, this sacrifice that the Church made and that this be appreciated,’ the Nuncio told reporters as he said his goodbyes to the Paraguayan leader. He noted that relations between Paraguay and the Holy See have not been affected by the affair.
Archbishop Antonini said the Church would need years to digest what happened. “But this will be overcome. I am hopeful that in this process which has begun in Paraguay, this democratic evolution will continue,” he said.
After noting that Lugo’s fathering of a child is part of the problem, the Nuncio said the Church has long underscored the need for priests and religious to have a proper understanding of their political involvement. “Bishops and priests should bring the spiritual dimension to political and social life,” he explained.
Religious must put Christ first, he added, warning that if social issues are not seen in God’s light, the danger exists that “the poor will be exploited and used as a pretext for partisan or other agendas.”
Vatican City, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - A rare event took place at St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday when Pope Benedict XVI consecrated five priests as bishops who had served in the Vatican's government.
Three of the newly consecrated bishops will be serving as diplomats for the Church, one will continue to work in the Roman Curia and one will take up service as a diocesan bishop. The prelates had worked in the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Governorate of Vatican City State.
The new papal nuncios are: Archbishops Gabriele Giordano Caccia, nuncio to Lebanon; Franco Coppola, nuncio to Burundi; and Pietro Parolin, nuncio to Venezuela. Bishop Raffaello Martinelli will be the shepherd of the suburbicarian see of Frascati and Bishop Giorgio Corbellini will head the Labor Office of the Apostolic See (ULSA).
In his homily Benedict XVI recalled how "service and the giving of self" represent "the most profound nucleus of the mission of Jesus Christ and, at the same time, the true essence of His priesthood."
"In Jerusalem during the last week of His life Jesus Himself ... revealed three characteristics of correct service, giving concrete form to the image of priestly ministry," he said.
"The first characteristic the Lord requires from His servant is faithfulness," the Pope began.
"The Church is not our Church but His Church, the Church of God. ... We do not seek power, prestige or esteem for ourselves. We lead men and women towards Christ and thus towards the living God. In this way we introduce them into truth, and into the freedom that derives from truth."
One fault touched on by Pope Benedict was that "affairs in civil society and, not infrequently, in the Church too, suffer from the fact that many of those charged with responsibility work for themselves and not for the community. ... The faithfulness of the servant of Jesus Christ consists precisely in the fact that he does not seek to adapt the faith to the fashions of the age."
"Faith," he explained, "needs to be transmitted. It was not given to us for ourselves alone, for the individual salvation of our souls, but for others, for this world and for our time."
The second characteristic of service is prudence, which is "something quite different from being astute," observed the Pope.
Prudence, according to Greek philosophical tradition the first of the cardinal virtues, "indicates the primacy of truth, which through 'prudence' becomes the criterion by which we act. Prudence requires humble, disciplined and vigilant reason which does not allow itself to be blinded by prejudice, which does not act in accordance with desires and passions, but seeks the truth, even an uncomfortable truth."
"Through Jesus Christ, God opened the window of truth for us. ... In Sacred Scripture and in faith in the Church, He shows us the essential truth about man, which imposes the right direction upon our actions. Thus, the primary cardinal virtue of the priest minister of Jesus Christ consists in allowing himself to be molded by the truth that Christ shows us. In this way we truly become men of reason, men who judge on the basis of the whole picture and not of random details," he taught.
The third characteristic is goodness. "Only God is good in the complete sense," the Holy Father explained. "He is goodness, goodness par excellence, goodness in person." Thus in man "being good is necessarily founded upon a profound inner orientation towards God. ... Goodness presupposes above all a living communion with God, a growing interior union with Him."
Turning to the practical application of these virtues, the Pontiff recalled how the Church today commemorates the Most Holy Name of Mary and how "in western tradition the name 'Mary' has been translated as 'Star of the Sea.'"
"How many times does the history through which we live seem like a dark sea whose waves strike threateningly against the ship of our lives?" he asked. "But then, close by, we see the light that shone forth when Mary said: 'Here am I, the servant of the Lord.' We see the clear light of goodness that emanates from her. In the goodness with which she welcomes and reaches out to the great and small aspirations of so many men and women, we recognize, in a very human way, the goodness of God Himself. With His goodness He ever and anew brings Jesus Christ (and thus the great Light of God) into the world."
"We pray," the Holy Father concluded, "that you may become faithful, prudent and good servants, and thus that one day you may hear from the Lord of History the words: Good and faithful servant, share in the joy of your lord."
Denver, Colo., Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - While the pro-life movement was in mourning over the weekend following the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Owosso, Mich., pro-Obama Catholics who reacted loudly after the murder of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller have completely ignored the death of the peaceful pro-life activist.
Catholics United, a small group of pro-Obama Catholics that has been actively involved in the abortion debate, completely ignored the murder of Pouillon on its website, while only few hours after Tiller’s murder on May 31, its executive director Chris Korzen issued a statement expressing his “shock” following the abortionist’s murder.
“Although the motivations behind this crime are uncertain, many believe Dr. Tiller's death is related to his controversial role as an abortion provider. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Tiller's loved ones during this time of grief,” Korzen said at the time.
“We fear,” Korzen added, “that this murder is a byproduct of increasingly hateful and intolerant language on the part of some militant opponents of legal abortion – language that has often sought to demonize people like Dr. Tiller to the point of dehumanization.”
Nevertheless, 72 hours after the murder of Pouillon, Korzen's site still features a post on Catholics United’s support for Obama's health care reform as its top entry.
Moreover, the day after the shooting of the Owosso pro-lifer, Korzen’s only statement was a condemnation of the massive “tea party” held in Washington D.C., which he called a “right-wing rally.” “We’d like to have an honest debate… I don’t see a lot of substance here,” Korzen told the New York Times.
The Jesuit weekly, America Magazine, also completely ignored the murder of the Michigan pro-life activist. None of the magazine's news or blog postings made a mention of Pouillon's murder. Instead, few hours after his murder, America posted an entry from blogger Austen Ivereigh titled “Lessons in radicalism and civility.”
In his post, Ivereigh quoted former Milwaukee archbishop Rembert Weakland, who in his recent memoirs accused “some parts of the pro-life movement” of lacking civility.
“To an increasing extent, the pro-life movement within the church shows a desire to act in ways which break amicable and civil relations with those both inside and outside our church who favor abortion or who support compromise on this issue,” Ivereigh also wrote, quoting Jesuit professor John P. Langan.
Ivereigh was the same America blogger that, only hours after the murder of the Kansas abortionist wrote: “What Dr. Tiller did was appalling. But he had his humanitarian reasons for doing it. He was a churchgoing family man. The hostility and violence directed at Dr. Tiller made him even more determined to carry on doing what he did. He was showered with pro-choice awards and is now, in death, a pro-choice martyr.”
On June 1, Michael Sean Winters, another blogger for America Magazine, wrote: “Dr. Tiller had a family and friends who have lost their husband, father, brother and neighbor. Because the murder happened in his church, Tiller’s fellow church-goers will doubtlessly be traumatized in a unique way every time they enter the vestibule of their place of worship."
"The killing is a tragedy for the pro-life movement,” Winters also wrote. “Despite the fact that most pro-life activists are peaceful people, committed to prayer not violence, the whole movement will be tarred with this murder. The charge of hypocrisy – murdering in an effort to stop murder – will ring loud and for many it will ring true.”
Winters also pointed out that “the killing is a tragedy for the nation.”
However, 24 hours after Pouillon’s murder, Winters chose to blog about immigrants and health care.
The National Catholic Reporter has followed a similar trend. Three days after Pouillon’s murder, the Reporter did not include any news stories on the killing, and none of its bloggers mentioned the issue.
Conversely, in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder, the Reporter included several stories about his death, including one titled, “With abortionist dead, do conservatives share blame?”
The article, signed by Lindsay Perna and Adelle M. Banks, claimed then that “with the murder on May 31 of Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion doctors, supporters of abortion rights are questioning whether there is a connection between his death and the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement.”
“More to the point,” the authors wrote, “would Tiller have been a victim if anti-abortion groups had not made him so prominent?”
Jeffrey Wess, an analyst for Politics Daily, observed on Sunday that President Barack Obama issued his condolences after Tiller's murder before nightfall the same Sunday.
“Let's grant that Dr. Tiller was famous before he was killed and that nobody much outside of Owosso had ever heard of Pouillon a week ago. And let's also grant that nobody has come up with any connections thus far between the suspect in Pouillon's murder and any organization with any stand concerning abortion,” Wess wrote.
“But Pouillon is sure famous now. And two days after his murder, I can find few statements about it, pro forma or otherwise, on any of the websites of any of the prominent organizations that support abortion rights,” Wess wrote in his column titled “Where Are the Condemnations of Abortion Protester James Pouillon's Murder?”
“Not NARAL. Not NOW. Not Planned Parenthood. Not Catholics for Choice,” he added.
Wess observed that, unlike the Obama Catholics, on Sunday evening, more than 48 hours after the killing of Pouillon, President Obama at least released a one sentence statement: “The shooting last week in Michigan was deplorable. Whichever side of a public debate you’re on, violence is never the right answer.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, several pro-life organizations and hundreds of pro-lifers held a special memorial service for Jim Pouillon during a prayer vigil at the Capitol, which Jim had planned to attend.
The 27-hour prayer vigil, part of a national campaign called “Abortion is Not Health Care,” started on Sunday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. and will end today at 10:00 p.m.
Lima, Peru, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - Last Friday Bishop Jesus Moline Labarta presented 33,000 signatures from voters against abortion to the Peruvian Congress in an effort to promote the defense of life from conception to natural death as the Constitutional Tribunal debates the legality of the morning-after pill.
“The vast majority supports the defense of life. We support the protection of life from the first moment of existence, the moment of conception to natural death,” the bishop said.
Those who have signed the petition have done so “convinced that it is necessary to heed the voices of those who cannot cry out, of those who cannot be heard, of the unborn, those who are in the wombs of their mothers,” he continued.
Bishop Labarta said members of the Chiclayo professional soccer team have pledged to wear shirts that say “No to abortion” as part of the petition.
Speaking to the Catholic News Agency, the bishop said the petition is intended to “make our leaders feel they are supported by the voters and to encourage these kinds of initiatives to be carried out across the country in order to show that the majority in our society supports life in all stages, from conception to natural death, and to express rejection for the pretense by some minority groups to get abortion legalized.”
Bishop Labarta exhorted Peruvians to express their support publicly for the family and to participate in public and private initiatives in defense of human life and the family.
He also urged Peruvians to join in the March for Life which will take place in Chiclayo on November 7. The march is is expected to draw some 10,000 people.
Medellin, Colombia, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) -
As of last Friday some 3,000 users have joined a Facebook group opposing the planned opening of an abortion clinic in the Colombian city of Medellin. The group says its goal is to bring together the greatest number of users possible to make city officials aware that the majority of the city’s residents are opposed to the plan.
The leaders of the group urge Colombians to “save the lives of the innocent” and to help do so by visiting a website, where they can fill out a questionnaire and send the link to as many friends as possible. “Let’s spread this page all over the internet so that thousands of emails will be sent to the Medellin city hall in protest of the abortion clinic that they are thinking about opening in Medellin with public funds, that is, with our money,” they said.
“$8,000 of our money is going to be invested in this,” they continued. “We cannot agree that Medellin is turned into Nazi concentration camp where innocents are killed.”
Santiago, Chile, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Argentinean bishops’ Committee on Social Communications, Archbishop Agustin Radrizzani, said last week that just as it is important that the economy does not dictate the policies of the media, so also is it important that “politics does not seek its own ideological or economic interests in its use of the media.”
The archbishop made his statements during a congressional hearing in which he also underscored the importance of debate on the Law on Audiovisual Communications Services. The proposed law would grant the Argentinean government greater control over the media.
Archbishop Radrizzani stressed that the debate about the bill should be carried out in such a way that “involves widespread participation by citizens and avoids any manipulation of information for the benefit of the few.”
Archbishop Radrizzani went on to call it “essential that there be respect at all times for the values of our nation and of our Christians roots, such as freedom of expression, especially for those who are poorest, of freedom of access to information for all citizens.”
For this reason, he said, “It is essential that respect for the spirit in which the law was drafted by safeguarded. Widespread and democratic participation must be a part” of the legislative process of passing and applying the new law.
He noted that the Church hopes that any law “intended to regulate communication between Argentineans be the result of broad and generous agreement.”
London, England, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, said recently that the future of Christians in the Holy Land is unsure, unless Christians in the rest of the world take concrete steps to sustain them.
In a conference organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) at the Cathedral of Westminster in London, Archbishop Twal said last Tuesday that emigration has drastically reduced the number of Christians in Israel and Palestine.
The 10,000 currently in the region could drop to 5,000 in 2016, he said, warning that the pilgrimage made by Benedict XVI in May has not yet lead to the “breather” that the minorities need. “Discrimination today in Israel threatens both Christians and Muslims,” he stated.
Referring to the wall in the West Bank that prevents Palestinians from have access to basic needs such as health care and education, the Patriarch said, “We have a generation of Christians who cannot visit the Holy Places of the faith that are just a few kilometers from their places of residence.”
During a Mass he celebrated earlier, Archbishop Twal thanked ACN for its untiring support. “We count on you and your collaboration. Without you what would our future be?” he said.
After warning of the grave crisis that many Palestinians face, he remarked that it seems “politicians are more afraid of peace than of war and prefer to manage the conflict instead of solve it.”
In the occupied territories, the people “are completely at the mercy of the Israeli army, and currently in the Gaza Strip people live under the strong arm of Israel which has created a drastic humanitarian crisis,” the archbishop noted.
During his visit to London, the Latin Patriarch met with bishops of England and Wales as well as with other organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.
Peterborough, Canada, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - Responding to the claims of an adult altar server who reported the Diocese of Peterborough to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for removing him from service, Bishop of Peterborough Nicola De Angelis has denied the authority of the tribunal to interfere in Church governance and has appealed for Catholic unity.
Jim Corcoran, who was an adult altar server at St. Michaels’ Church in Coburg, Ontario until last April, has charged that he was removed because of his sexual orientation. According to the Peterborough Examiner, Corcoran says he lives as a “chaste gay man.” His partner was also reported to have been an altar server.
Corcoran reported that the request for him to step aside came after the bishop was sent a petition signed by twelve parishioners. He said that he still attends the parish, but those who signed the letter of complaint do not.
“I stepped aside -- but I challenged the version of why I was asked to step aside,” he told the Peterborough Examiner. "I am not being disloyal to the bishop. I did what was asked -- but I am asking for accountability for the decision. I'm simply asking why I was asked to step down. The only possible answer is because I'm gay."
Corcoran filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Bishop De Angelis responded to the controversy at the parish in a September 12 letter to St. Michael’s parishioners and the faithful of the diocese.
Explaining that he wrote with “sadness of heart,” he said recent events at the parish have revealed an attitude “contrary to the life and nature of the Church.”
The bishop expressed puzzlement that “secular powers and government agencies” believe they can criticize the Church about her internal rules and regulations.
“If the Human Rights Tribunal should choose to interfere with the Church's governance, this will be most shocking,” Bishop De Angelis wrote. “The Tribunal has no authority to place itself as an arbiter of canonical precepts.”
He characterized the central question as being whether volunteer service is a right. In the Church’s view, it is not a right but an “invitation” that the pastor or bishop can terminate at any time, particularly when the volunteer service causes “tension, animosity, discord or division” in parish life.
He cited a July 27, 2001 letter of then-Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship Cardinal Jorge A. Medina Estevez, who strongly reaffirmed that altar boys should be encouraged to help foster vocations to the priesthood. The cardinal also said that the non-ordained faithful “do not have the right to service at the altar.”
“It follows that to call oneself a Catholic while challenging the Church and Her internal discipline entrusted to the bishops, is a contradiction,” Bishop De Angelis explained.
Responding to the charge of discrimination based on sexual orientation, the bishop wrote that he can honestly say he treated all volunteers the same.
“I am at a loss to understand how there has been any misinterpretation of a practical decision made with honesty and without any discrimination,” he said.
According to the bishop, the original unrest at St. Michael’s was the refusal of “a few parishioners” to accept a new pastor. Some parish volunteers were the objects of “tension, criticism and division,” which led the bishop to meet with the church’s pastor, Fr. Allan Hood, and to correspond with various parishioners.
“I then asked Fr. Hood to kindly invite the volunteers involved, particularly those who were the object of tension and disagreement, to step aside and give the chance to other volunteers to serve,” the bishop recalled.
He reported that these volunteers included some who served as readers, Eucharistic ministers, adult altar services, Church Restoration Committee members and others.
“I asked Father Hood to thank them for the service done so far in the Parish, but to know that it was now time to allow others the chance to serve as volunteers,” the bishop wrote. He added that he had personally written to remind them that their volunteer services was on a “temporary basis” and their stepping down would allow all parishioners the opportunity to volunteer.
Those who stepped down, despite some “sadness and frustration,” did so in “humility and obedience” to the bishop.
Concluding his letter, Bishop De Angelis said that Catholics go to church to share the “bread of life” that “makes us one.” He noted St. Paul’s comments in the Letter to the Galatians that “all are one in Christ Jesus.”
“Even though we play different roles, we all have the same dignity - that of being children of God created in His image and likeness,” the bishop continued, encouraging St. Michael’s parishioners to reconcile with each other “in humility and obedience to the bishop.”
Canadian human rights tribunals have previously been used against Catholics by homosexuals who allege discrimination. In 2005 Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary was the subject of a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission because of a pastoral letter he issued to parishioners in January against homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.”
In February 2007 the Canadian magazine Catholic Insight faced a Canadian Human Rights Commission complaint from a man who used isolated quotes from the magazine to claim it created a tone of “extreme hatred and contempt” against homosexuals. Although the complaint was dropped in July of 2008, the modestly funded magazine was forced to incur over $20,000 in legal expenses.
Portland, Maine, Sep 14, 2009 (CNA) - Seeking to support a campaign to restore the definition of marriage to a union only between a man and a woman, the Catholic Diocese of Portland asked parishioners to donate to the campaign in a second collection on Sunday.
Officials said the donations will help pay for television ads aiming to overturn a state law legislators passed last spring recognizing same-sex unions as “marriages,” ABC affiliate WMTW News 8 reports.
Parishioner Jane Roy said she hoped marriage can go back to “the tradition as it was.”
“Marriage should be between a man and a woman, at least in the state that I live in.”
Outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where a second collection was held on Sunday, two former nuns from a group called “Catholics for Marriage Equality” said they were disappointed by the second collections.
Fr. Louis Phillip, explaining the collection, said that marriage “pre-dates government.”
“Since the beginning of time, marriage has been understood by people of every faith and culture to be the union of a man and a woman.”
Marc Mutty, director of Stand for Marriage Maine, said 140 churches across the state took a second collection on Sunday. He reported that the churches could have raised as much as $100,000 to $300,000.
"We don't have endless resources and we are scrambling to put the resources together to fund our media buy," he explained.
Voters will decide whether to overturn the state law in a November 3.
CNA contacted Stand for Marriage Maine for comment but did not receive a response by publication time.
The Stand for Marriage Maine website is at http://standformarriagemaine.com